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How Yahoo Search Engine Works

Posted by Mohsin On 6/07/2012 12:48:00 AM 2 comments

Showing up in Yahoo's Web Matches section is great, because it represents "free" traffic that your web site can receive from Yahoo. However, since the Web Matches are "editorial" results, you have no guarantee of getting a top ranking in them. For those looking for this type of guarantee, they need to consider the Yahoo "Sponsor Matches" option.
Sponsor Matches listings appear under that heading near the top of Yahoo's results page. These are paid placement listings, where in exchange for payment, an advertiser is guaranteed to appear for the keywords they wish to target.
Those in North America who visit Yahoo.com see paid placement results in this area that come from Overture's US web site, Overture.com. To learn more about how to get listed with Overture, see the How Overture Works page.
The first four results for a particular search at Overture.com will show up in Yahoo.com's "Sponsor Matches" area. In other words, let's say you wanted to show up in the top results at Yahoo for the word "shoes."
If you went to Overture and paid enough to be the top listing for "shoes," then you would appear at the top of the Sponsor Matches section at Yahoo for the word "shoes." If you were number two for "shoes" at Overture, you'd be the second site in Sponsor Matches at Yahoo. If you were number three at Overture, then you'd be third in Yahoo's Sponsor Matches. If you were number four at Overture, then you'd be number four in Yahoo's Sponsor Matches.
In addition, the fifth and sixth results at Overture will appear in the "More Sponsor Matches" area at the bottom of the Yahoo search results page. Thus, if you were ranked number five or six at Overture for "shoes," then you'd show up in the More Sponsored Matches area at Yahoo for that word.
In summary, Yahoo carries Overture's top six paid results for any word on the first page of its results. So, if you are in the top six paid results at Overture for a particular term, you'll have prominent placement at Yahoo for that word. This makes getting a top listing at Yahoo -- which is a major source of traffic -- very easy, at least for those with budgets. Simply pay for a top listing at Overture, and you'll have high prominence at Yahoo.
Unusual Situations With Overture Results
Even if you aren't in Overture's top six paid results, you may still show up in Yahoo's Sponsored Matches area. You just won't be in the first page of Yahoo's results.
For example, if someone does a search at Yahoo, the first page of results that comes up will have the top six paid listings from Overture in the Sponsored Matches and More Sponsored Matches area. However, if someone choose to see more results by using the "Next" link at the bottom of the page, a new second page of results will appear.
This second page will have listings from Overture, as well. This time, results seven through 12 from Overture will populate the Sponsored Matches and More Sponsored Matches area. If someone choose to see the third page of results at Yahoo, then listings 13 through 18 from Overture will be used.
The vast majority of people usually find what they want in the first page of results at Yahoo, so while results past Overture's top six may be used, don't expect much traffic to come to you if you are in these less premium positions.
Overture also has unpaid results that show up after all its paid listings. For some queries, there may even be no paid listings at all. That means an unpaid listing could be in a top spot at Overture. However, Overture only distributes its paid listing to Yahoo, a top unpaid position at Overture will not appear in Yahoo's Sponsored Matches area.
Finally, Yahoo may prevent some ads from appearing on its site, at its own discretion. For example, paid listings that eBay places with Overture for different keywords were being filtered out of the Sponsored Matches area at Yahoo.
Sponsor Matches Outside North America
Yahoo uses "geotargeting," where it shows paid listings from different sources, depending on a person's geographical location. Yahoo can make a good guess at where someone is located at by looking at their browser's IP address.
This means, as previously stated, those visiting Yahoo.com from North America will get paid listings from Overture in the US. However, those coming to Yahoo.com from the United Kingdom get different listings -- those from Overture UK.
Many people from outside North America come to Yahoo.com. This means that if you wish to target them via the Sponsored Matches area, you may need to run ads in addition to those you may already be running with Overture US. Otherwise, due to geotargeting, those outside North America will never see your Overture US ads on Yahoo.com.
Here's a summary of some major ways that Yahoo.com geotargets paid listings in the Sponsored Matches area and where those geotargeted listings come from:
Searcher's Location Paid Listing Provider
For Yahoo.com
North America
(US & Canada)
Overture US
United Kingdom Overture UK
Australia LookSmart Australia
Japan Overture Japan
& Google AdWords
Just to complicate matters, in addition to Yahoo.com, Yahoo also operates a large number of country-specific web sites. For example, Yahoo UK serves the United Kingdom. Each of these web sites may have their own arrangements to show Sponsor Matches entirely different from the chart above.
For example, if you go to Yahoo UK from inside the UK, you'll see Sponsor Matches that come from Espotting UK. Despite this, if you then go to Yahoo.com from within the UK, you'll see Overture UK results.
The chart below shows for a particular searcher's location, what they'll see in the way of paid listings if they go to their "local" Yahoo versus Yahoo.com:
Paid Listings
on Local Site
Paid Listings
on Yahoo.com
North America
(US & Canada)
Yahoo.com uses
Overture US
North Americans see
Overture US
United Kingdom
& Ireland
Yahoo UK uses
Espotting UK
UK visitors see
Overture UK
& New Zealand
Yahoo Australia uses
LookSmart Australia
Australian visitors see
LookSmart Australia
Germany Yahoo Germany uses
Espotting Germany
France Yahoo France uses
Espotting France
apparently none
Spain Yahoo Spain uses
Espotting Spain
apparently none
Italy Yahoo Italy uses
Espotting Italy
apparently none
Scandinavia Various Yahoo properties use or
will soon use various Espotting listings
probably none
Japan Yahoo Japan uses Overture Japan & Google AdWords unknown
As you can see, if you wanted to reach those in the UK via Yahoo's Sponsored Matches area, you'd likely need to run ads with both Espotting UK (to cover those going to the local Yahoo UK site) and Overture UK (to cover those who may go to the Yahoo.com site.

How can you see what a "local" person might see, if you aren't in the same country as a local Yahoo? Use an IP cloaking service. No, this has nothing to do with search engine cloaking. Instead, it is simply a service that disguises your IP address. Here are two such services that I've found will make it seem at if you are in the US, even if you are not:


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