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This is an experiment and I really don't want to spend a ton of money promoting this new site since it's basically a test site.
Anyway, my question is, is a Yahoo paid directory listing essential to ranking well with Google? I feel confident that I can get many inbound links to the new site based on its content and I would like to see what I can do with organic traffic. Does a site have a prayer of doing OK in Google without the Yahoo listing?
This used to be a factor, but I don't know if it is now. Been taking the lazy way out and paying for traffic for a while. ;-)
I think people worry about pleasing the search engines so much that they forget who they're in business for: the consumer. I also think the search engines know this and have found - or ought to if they haven't already - a way to evaluate the site and figure out who the webmaster is trying to cater to.
Think about it... who are the search engine's customers? It's certainly not us, though we do pay for advertising, that's not their core business. The guy who searches for vacation packages, the mom that wants the best deal on home furnishings, the kid that needs information for his science fair project... THAT'S who Google et. all has to answer to at the end of the day. You might optimize the bejesus out of your site, but ultimately if the content sucks... well... how does that serve the SE's customer? It doesn't, and they'll figure you out.
I'd say post your site, get some good quality links flowing in and see what happens. I've tested a similar strategy on a couple of my sites and I've gotten great results without spending a dime outside of development costs. If you don't get what you're after (and be sure to allow ample time, the SEs are slow!) then investigate spending some cash to get the flow... but if your content is good, well, the directories will be asking YOU if they can list your site. :)