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Is Yahoo Showing Big Sites Over Smaller Sites?

My unique 8 word title shows up behind a big portal

   
11:34 am on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



This is not the first time I've noticed this, but now it's hitting home.

A search for our unique 8 word title brings up a review from a major travel portal before us.

Here's a case where a search for Jack and Jill's bucket of water in Hillsdale brings up a "review" page from a major portal before our site.

I just can't imagine how Yahoo could consider the portal more relevant for this search phrase unless they have some flawed algorithm or special agreement with the portal.

Anyone have similar experiences?

7:23 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I see many examples of this kind of thing with my clients. All algorithms are slightly flawed, compared to what a human judgement would be, anyway.

My guess, in most cases, is that the inbound links are so different that it gives the "big" site's page the advantage.

8:30 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Well, the portal has a PR of 8 compared to a PR of 5 for our site, but such a specific search should definately bring up our site first.

On closer analysis it is the portal which is deliberately repeating the title tags throughout the page, much the way Amazon might do so.

A site:bigportal.com search in Yahoo results in over 18 million pages indexed. I don't believe it. Google lists 600,000 which is much more realistic.

In any event we may soon find that these big portals with their dynamically generated pages structured to copy title tags of smaller "reviewed sites" will eventually replace the sites themselves.

As I noted in my previous post this is not the first time I've seen this happen.

It seems to me that if Yahoo honestly cares about its search results then it should filter out the portal unless the search string includes "reviews" or something similar.

8:50 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Seems to me that a review of another site or service would be relevant to someone thinking of using that site or service. So it's not like it's totally irrelevant.

The other thing to consider, which might help you get a leg up on this portal site, is how you link to the home page of your website. Do you use the word HOME or do you use the name of your company from the footer?

Linking to the home page from your footer with the name of your company will usually clear up most "not ranking for my name" related issues.

11:50 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I agree that reviews are useful as an aid in deciding which product or service to buy.
But when searching for a product with a unique name the results should first present that site.

Let's assume somebody wants to contact Jack and Jill in order to buy some buckets. With Yahoo's algorithm it might not be so easy. All it takes is a few more big portals (and sponsors) and then it's Hit the road Jack and Jill.

I've seen countless affiliate travel sites dominate the SERPs for quite a while, it's gotten to the point where it's difficult to find relevant information.

The point is, if someone is searching for "Jack and Jill's bucket of water in Hillsdale" they should find it above all other results.

I can understand generic searches bringing lots of portals up to the top, but not specific ones.

It reeks of favoritism.

martinbuster, for optimization purposes I do not link back to the home page with the exact title, but with the relevant keywords. I suppose I could link with the exact title but I wouldn't want to compromise the effort I've already made. Most people are searching for bucket of water in Hillsdale and not "Jack and Jill's bucket of water in Hillsdale".

Are you suggesting that the footer might be a better place than at the top of the page?

11:52 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Coming up first for me, both with and without the ampersands.

Aside from that though, having one link text to the root / URL with Home, and one to /index.htm with different link text, that's just an invitation to not rank as well as you should.

1:38 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



It reeks of favoritism.

Not really, because in the greatest majority of cases there is only an automatic algorithm at work, and there's no human intervention that could be playing favorites. In most case, the algorithm performs pretty amazingly well at getting the specific search to show the unique website. And sometimes, it just goes a bit wonky. Still, earlier on the web sedarch results could be amazingly wonky compared to what we get today.

After all, a search engine just a bunch of mathematics trying to sort out billions of pages - not a human edited effort like a directory.

8:05 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Not only does the portal rank on top with or without ampersands &, but it's top dog for a number of variations too, like:

Jack & Jill's bucket of water
Jack & Jill's bucket of water in hillsdale
Jack & Jill's bucket of water in hilltown
Jack & Jill (in this case our site doesn't even show up in the Yahoo search results whereas in Google we're still at the top)

steveb I appreciate your observation regarding the two different links,

having one link text to the root / URL with Home, and one to /index.htm with different link text, that's just an invitation to not rank as well as you should
this is an issue I've never fully understood and one that has come up before.
Any ideas of what the potential risks would be of changing them now so that they're all the same?
And what is the consensus on "best way to link"?
Are absolute links better?
Or would a relative link be fine ./?
I've heard many times that linking to index.htm is not as good but I just don't understand why.

tedster Perhaps I am skeptical about the way Yahoo does things but from my experience the company has consistently resorted to questionable business tactics throughout their history. They are slowly moving over to paid listings and affiliates in their organic results, ie: travel.yahoo.com (which always appears first for most travel related searches). The most recent issue I have with Yahoo I posted a few weeks ago here [webmasterworld.com] to which I would be intriqued to hear your take.
In any event, giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming it is purely a wonky algorithm, wouldn't it be in their interest to rectify the current situation?
It's not just our site.

9:13 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Bobby, clean out your cookies, and see how they rank. You are first anyway I tried to search with the town, etc.

You should not have any problems linking consistently. Use the "/" not "index.htm". I would only use absolute links, and be sure to 301 the non-www to the www (or the other way around), but those are different issues.

Given your inconsistent linking and use of the word "home" for links instead of the term we are talking about, it shouldn't be a big surprise someone else outranks you. Still, I see you ranking first.

9:26 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I've heard many times that linking to index.htm is not as good but I just don't understand why.

Ranking factors need to be assigned to urls, not "pages". Your simple domain name, www.example.com, is bound to get some links. But when index.html is appended to the domain name, that is now a different url. Even though it may resolve to the "same" page, technically it isn't required to.

When different urls resolve to the same resource, link pop, anchor text influence, and so on can therefore be diluted, split across different urls when you want these factors to be concentrated on one. This can also be a factor on directories within a site if linking is not consistent.

...wouldn't it be in their interest to rectify the current situation? It's not just our site.

Sure, I agree. But how can this particular situation be fixed without throwing other problems, potentially more widespread, into the SERPs. That's the search engineers' ongoing challenge.

The fact that your page shows up at all, even though lower than the big portal, is already a pretty good result -- just not ideal.

One of my clients has a medium sized website and they have a site search function where we can tweak the algo a bit to get different results. Being hands on with a search algorithm, even in this very small way, has been quite a humbling experience for me. When I tweak to improve the results on one kind of search, another kind goes wonky.

 

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