Schmoozing Yahoo

by Martin Malden

Yahoo I have an interesting problem that I’ve wrestled with for a while:

99% of my search engine traffic on this site comes from Google.

While I’m delighted that Google sends me a lot of traffic, there are two problems:

  1. I’m missing out on the 40% or so of web search traffic that Yahoo accounts for
  2. I hate being so dependent on a single source.

So I’ve been taking some steps to up my Yahoo traffic. I’ve focused on this for a while and, although I’ve seen a small uptick, it’s still very small.

I’ve made the mistake over the past couple of years of focusing on Google search traffic and, while I’ve been doing things that I believed were good, generic SEO practices, I may have inadvertently optimized my site for Google.

So a while ago I took a couple of steps to rectify this:

  1. I registered and verified my site in Yahoo Site Explorer (Yahoo’s equivalent of Google Webmaster Tools)
  2. I got myself a validation key for my XML sitemap generator plugin so that Yahoo is notified of new posts and pages (as well as Google, Ask and Bing)

However, I didn’t notice any perceptible change and after a couple of months (about 1 month ago now) I took a third:

I set up a low key Yahoo Search Marketing campaign

I thought long and hard about the YSM campaign. It’s the first time I’ve done anything that amounted to paying for traffic to this site, but here’s why I did it:

I have another WordPress site which is configured in exactly the same way as this one. Same XML sitemap plugin, registered in Google Webmaster Tools but not Yahoo Site Explorer, same SEO practices that I’ve followed with this one.

Yet on that site 49% of my traffic comes from Yahoo.

Why the difference?

That site has a sister site and they sit on the same domain name, but with two different TLDs – one is .net, the other .com

I’d run a Yahoo Search Marketing campaign for a while to drive traffic to the .net site, which was the first one I set up.

When I set up the .com site I deliberately did not set up a YSM campaign and yet Yahoo started sending search traffic to that site before Google did.

In fact, initially some of the traffic they sent to the .com site should have gone to the .net site. They got that sorted out after a while, and they now send natural search traffic to the correct sites.

I was surprised that Yahoo started sending search traffic so quickly to the .com site, and it’s still sending a smidgeon under half of all search traffic to it today.

The only thing I could find that was different was that I’d been running that YSM campaign driving traffic to the .net version of the domain name.

So part of my experiment is to set up a low-key YSM campaign to drive traffic to this site.

The purpose of the campaign is not about driving paid traffic for its own sake. It’s to find out whether using a YSM campaign helps to increase the natural (unpaid) search traffic over the longer term.

I’ve had this campaign going for a month or so and there’s been a miniscule upturn in natural search traffic from Yahoo (2% better than it was a month ago), but a noticeable number of visits from new traffic sources.

This is mostly from minor search engines that didn’t figure at all previously.

So I’m going to continue this campaign for a while and see what happens.

If anyone else has come across this problem I’d love to know how you dealt with it – let me know in a comment!

Cheers,

Martin Malden

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