Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Introduction to Yahoo! Answers (Part 2 of 2)

As a follow up to our previous post which gave an overview of how Yahoo! Answers works, here’s a look at how the social media site can be incorporated into your SEO or SMO strategy:

Link Building

Yahoo! Answers can be a valuable source of inbound links. While Yahoo! Answers does place the NoFollow attribute on direct links (thus reducing their value with the search engines), these links can still drive valuable traffic to your website.

According to Loren Baker of Search Engine Journal, “By utilizing the categories in Yahoo Answers, a site owner can use the content and knowledge available via their site or research to actively answer questions which are being asked within Yahoo Answers and not only will such participation build that expert recognition, but also possible traffic, links and sales.”

If your website is a good resource for information on a particular topic, include it as a source when answering related questions. For example, if your website has useful articles on wedding planning and someone asks a question, such as “What are good ideas for planning a destination wedding?,” you may provide a sincere answer and cite your website as a source of additional information. The key is to not spam Yahoo! Answers with advertising copy or irrelevant links. Always tailor your response to the individual question and do your best to give helpful information.

Impact on Search

Yahoo! Answers is now being tested for inclusion on the Yahoo! search engine results page (SERP). On some searches, an excerpt of relevant questions from Yahoo! Answers appears beneath the organic listings on the first results page. The feature is different from Google Personal Search as users don’t have to log in to Yahoo! have the Yahoo! Answers results appear.

While the option to click on relevant Yahoo! Answers content may help searchers find the answers they’re looking for, it’s creating new questions for search marketers. A comment by Brian Robinson on the Yahoo! Search Blog argues, “[The inclusion of Yahoo! Answers on the SERPs] takes away from the seo efforts of webmasters who have finally been able to earn their way to the top of the yahoo search engine.”

Whether this new addition to the Yahoo! SERPs steals traffic away from the organic listings remains to be seen. There are sponsored links at the bottom of the SERPs already, so the Yahoo! Answers results may not be a huge hurdle for websites that don’t rank in the top 10. It’s possible that, if having a paid listing and an organic listing helps improve website traffic, having a paid listing and a top 10 organic listing and a Yahoo! Answers listing could become the new pinnacle of visibility success on Yahoo!. Only time will tell. Or, maybe you could just ask Yahoo! Answers.

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