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How to submit to Yahoo

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Yahoo can still rightfully be called the king of directories, despite the efforts of DMOZ and Looksmart to dethrone it. In recent years, the directory has grown in size, its prices have risen and it has become harder to submit to it.

Even so, a listing at Yahoo continues to be worth all the trouble and money it may take to achieve one. Not only does an Yahoo listing drive highly targeted traffic to your site, but it will also boost your link popularity and Google PageRank.

What is Yahoo?
To define it in one word, Yahoo is a directory. A brief explanation on what directories are and how to submit to them can be found in "Boost your traffic with website directories". If you've already read that piece, feel free to move on. However, if you haven't, I strongly recommend that you take a look at it now.

As implied above, Yahoo uses a directory structure to classify the sites listed in it. It is run by a group of hired editors who review submissions, process requests to change the way a site is listed and handle other issues involved in maintaining the directory. In addition to the main site, there are several country/region-specific Yahoo's that list sites directly related to different countries and regions.

These days, there are two ways you can submit to Yahoo. The first one is free, but it is not available to all sites and has other drawbacks as well. The second, Yahoo Express, can be used by (almost) everyone and is fast, but also costs a pretty penny. Here, we'll cover both and hopefully help you determine which of the two suits your situation better.

Free submission
The free submission option offered by Yahoo has several limitations. First of all, it is not available in the "commercial directory". The "commercial directory" consists mostly of the "Business and Economy" category and its subcategories, which are where most commercial sites should be placed.

International Yahoos (for example Yahoo UK & Ireland and Yahoo Australia & NZ) are exceptions to this rule, because they still allow free submissions to the categories under "Business and Economy". Thus, if you have a commercial site that is targeted at a non-US audience, submitting to the appropriate international Yahoo might be a cost-effective solution.

The second limitation is that the free submission is reserved for non-commercial sites. Hence, even if you have a commercial site that belongs outside the "Business and Economy" category, the only way you'll be able to get in is through Yahoo Express.

So, what makes one site commercial and another non-commercial in the eyes of Yahoo? If you're selling a product or a service, you're commercial. On the other hand, if your site provides a lot of high quality content for free and does not have any banner ads or affiliate programs, you're non-commercial. Between these two extremes lies a large grey area.

Let's imagine that you offer a large amount of free information about baseball, but also have one or two banners on each page to cover the hosting fees. Is your site commercial or non-commercial? The answer may depend on who reviews your submission and what mood he is in.

However, generally it can be said that having one banner per page does not make you commercial, just as long as it is clear that the main purpose of your site is to distribute information. But if the editor gets the impression that you're "in it for the money", for example from seeing large amounts of links to affiliate programs or multiple banners on each page, your site will be labeled as commercial even if you aren't actually selling anything.

The worst thing about Yahoo's free submission is that it is a very slow and unreliable way to get into the directory. Usually it takes several attempts and several months before you'll be able to get your site listed, so if you're in a hurry, the free submission is not for you.

With help of the basic submission instructions in the article about website directories and these guidelines from Yahoo, you should be able to submit successfully to the directory. Despite that, sometimes submissions are rejected or left unreviewed by Yahoo editors. Thus, if your site doesn't appear in the directory within 3-4 weeks of your submission, read the section labeled "Rejected - what now?" from this article for instructions on what to do next.

Yahoo Express
For those who own a commercial site or lack in patience, Yahoo offers "Yahoo Express", a paid submission service. In exchange for promising to review your English-language site within a week, Yahoo wants you to pay a $299 ($600 if you have adult content) non-refundable fee. This fee includes one free appeal within 30 days, so if you happen to get rejected, you can fix the problems pointed out to you by Yahoo and try again without having to pay any additional fees.

Remember, this is a review fee and it does not guarantee that your site will be accepted into the directory. The only thing it guarantees is that someone will look at your site within 7 days and decide whether or not it will be added to Yahoo. So, before submitting your site via "Yahoo Express", make sure that it complies with all of Yahoo's guidelines.

Unfortunately, simply paying the initial review fee isn't enough. If you use "Yahoo Express" and are accepted into Yahoo, your site will also be re-reviewed each year on the anniversary date of your site's inclusion in the directory. This means that you'll have to pay the $299/$600 review fee once every year, and if you don't, your site will be removed from the directory.

Additionally, should your site change within the year in a way that makes it ineligible for a Yahoo listing (for example, a lot of broken images and/or links appear), it seems possible that you'll lose your listing even if you pay the yearly fee.

Naturally, a recurring annual fee would make things very difficult for non-commercial sites that wish to speed up their listing process with Yahoo Express. Paying a one-time review fee might not be out of the question, but having to pay the same fee year after year is usually impossible.

However, the annual fee only applies to sites submitted to the "commercial directory", which consists mostly of categories under "Business and Economy". Sites submitted to non-commercial categories do not have to pay the yearly review fee, even if they are submitted using Yahoo Express.

Rejected - What now? (Yahoo Express)
After spending $299 (or $600) to get your site reviewed, it feels pretty bad to receive a rejection E-mail from Yahoo. Should that happen to you, the first thing you must do is to take it easy. You still have the chance to appeal the decision within 30 days, but remember, you only have one appeal.

So, take your time and carefully fix the problems pointed out in the rejection E-mail before appealing. If your appeal is rejected, your submission fee has effectively went down the drain.

Unfortunately, Yahoo doesn't always give a very specific explanation on why your site has been rejected. Instead, they have a couple of very general reasons that they usually use to justify the rejection. Here are some of them, along with brief explanations on what they mean and what you need to do in order to successfully appeal the decision.

Yahoo says: Lack of content/not enough unique content
Solution: Add more content to your pages. Write new articles, start a message board, add a page where you collect links to other useful resources and so on. Just remember that a message board with no or very little messages is not content, neither is a links page full of affiliate links.

Make sure that the content is of high quality, can be reached easily from your front page and that there is enough of it. Publishing a few of the free articles available on the Internet is not good enough, as Yahoo really wants your content to be unique.

One possible reason for this problem is running a site that allows most of the content to be accessed solely by registered members. The editors will only examine those parts of your site that they can view with ease. If you're attempting to submit a members-only site, you must include a valid account name and password in your submission. The account must be usable for at least 90 days.

Yahoo says: Lack of backward compatibility with older browsers/doesn't display correctly
Solution: Make sure that your pages are compatible with older browsers as well as new ones. Yahoo is fairly strict when it comes to this subject, so being very careful and thorough is in order.

Your site must display correctly when viewed with IE 4, Netscape 4 or any higher version of those browsers. Supporting the 3-versions isn't a bad idea, either. In addition to meeting those demands, you'll need to support resolutions from 640x480 upwards and be Mac-friendly as well.

However, Yahoo does not require the pages to look as good in Netscape Navigator v4 with 640x480 as they might under Internet Explorer v6 with 1024x768. It is generally OK, if all the graphical bells & whistles are not there when the page is viewed with an older browser or with a lower resolution. Just as long as the design remains intact and the site is usable, you should be fine.

You should especially remember to check that the site works when JavaScript is deactivated or not available. Many sites place all of their content behind JavaScript-links, which often causes them to get rejected. Also, pages that are completely Flash-based or rely heavily on other modern techniques (CSS, DHTML and so on) frequently run into troubles when they attempt to get listed at Yahoo.

Altering an existing design in a way that makes it work with older browsers, but also preserves its good looks is sometimes impossible. In those cases, you should create a simplified version of the design and allow users the possibility to select between the two.

Again, don't worry if the "no frills" version doesn't look as classy as the other one. As long as all the information that can be accessed through the more modern version is also available via the simplified version, you should be fine.

Yahoo says: Already included/not substantially unique

Solution: This rejection notice is often sent to those who are attempting to list a sub-section of a site that is already listed in the directory. If that is the case, your chances of winning an appeal are slim, because Yahoo rarely allows more than one listing per domain. However, appealing and explaining exactly why it would be beneficial for the Yahoo directory to include the page is always worth a shot.

Try to look at the subject from their point of view. Writing an appeal that contains statements such as "it would increase the traffic to my site" is a waste of time. Should other similar sites have more than one listing, pointing them out in your appeal might also be a good idea.

What if your site is not listed in Yahoo, but you are rejected based on this reason? Such a situation may be caused by Yahoo feeling that your site has nothing unique to offer to the directory. Jump to the part labeled "lack of content/not enough unique content" to find the solution for that kind of difficulties.

Yahoo says: Under construction

Solution: Usually caused by broken links, images or "under construction" signs, so addressing the problem should be fairly easy.

You may also be rejected based on this reason if your pages break down when someone uses an older browser to look at them. See "Lack of backward compatibility with older browsers/doesn't display correctly".

Yahoo says: No address

Solution: If your site is commercial or if you are applying for a listing in a regional category, you must list your physical address on your site. At the very least, have an "About Us" or "Contact" page that contains your address, but preferably list your address on all of your pages. Giving out your phone number on your site is also a good idea, if you have a dedicated line you can spare.

Those running a home-based business might feel uncomfortable publishing their address on their site and prefer to list a P.O. Box address instead. However, in order to protect consumers from fraud, Yahoo prefers "real" addresses over P.O. Boxes. Some that have used a P.O. Box address have been able to submit successfully, while others say they have been rejected.

Also, if you own a commercial site, do include a privacy policy and terms of service.

Rejected - What now? (Free submission)
When you submit via the Free Submission option and are accepted into the directory, you'll usually receive an E-mail stating that your site has been listed. Should Yahoo choose to reject your submission instead, it's extremely unlikely that they'll E-mail you about it. So, if you don't hear anything from Yahoo within three or four weeks of your submission, consider your site to be rejected.

Before you being plotting your horrible revenge, check the Yahoo directory one more time to see if your site is listed. Occasionally, Yahoo lists sites that have been submitted via the Free Submission option, but forgets to inform the owner about the decision. Type your domain name (ie. into the search box. If you're listed in the directory, you'll show up under "Web Site Matches" - if you're not, you'll be listed under "Web Page Matches" or not at all.

Unless you just found your site in the directory, you will have to continue your efforts to get listed. The first step is to once more check your site for problems and then submit it for a second time. Be sure that the aforementioned three to four weeks have passed since your last submission, otherwise you might be seen as attempting to spam the directory.

If your second submission doesn't produce results within a month, try contacting Yahoo at . Send them a polite E-mail in which you ask why your site has not been accepted and what you can do to make it worthy of an Yahoo listing. Remember to include the URL of your site and the name of the category you submitted to in your letter, otherwise they won't know what submission you are talking about. Also, try to be brief as these people don't have a lot of time on their hands.

When you E-mail the above address, you will receive an automatic reply. I recommend that you read it first, as it has some instructions that may save you the trouble of contacting them.

Should you be lucky, they might answer to you and explain what you need to do in order to get listed. In the best possible situation they may even immediately list your site. However, in most cases, you will not receive a reply. If you don't get one within two or three weeks, do not E-mail them again. Instead, simply re-submit your site via the free submission yet again. Only try contacting the E-mail address for a second time if several re-submissions made at four week intervals do not produce results.

If nothing else seems to help, try visiting the Search Engine Forums Yahoo section. There are no Yahoo editors there, but several people who have very much experience of submitting sites to Yahoo visit the forum frequently. Ask them nicely to review your site and they'll surely tell you how to modify it so that it will finally be admitted into the directory.

Those who are really, really desperate can also try writing a letter to Yahoo. The address is

Yahoo! Corporation
3420 Central Expressway
Santa Clara, CA 95051, USA

How the search and the ranking system works
As important as it is to gain a listing in Yahoo, you won't profit much from it if you're listed in a way that makes it impossible to find your site. In order to be able to make your site more visible, you'll have to know a thing or two about how Yahoo works.

There are two ways a person can use to find your site at Yahoo. The first is to browse the categories and find the one your site is placed in. The other, often faster way, is to use the search feature located at the top of Yahoo's front page. In this chapter, we'll first examine how the order of sites in the categories is determined. After that, we'll move on to the search feature.

Yahoo arranges the sites in each of the categories with the same, relatively simple method. If you go and take a look, you'll notice that the sites are listed alphabetically by title. Even though the order is in most cases based on this rule, there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of.

Most popular
In many categories, there are a handful of sites listed under a heading called "Most popular". Being located among them has two advantages. One, in addition to that listing, you'll also get to keep your regular listing under the "Alphabetical" heading.

Two, sites under the "Most popular" heading are above all other sites, excluding possible sponsored ones. This makes it easier for people to find you, especially if the title of your site does not begin with an A, B or C.

So, what decides which site gets a "Most popular" status and which does not? Unfortunately, I've been unable to find a truly accurate answer to that question. However, click popularity has been said to play a large part in the process. Also, it has been noticed that the sites under "Most popular" tend to have a few things in common. They're usually well-known, large sites that have high link popularity and a high Google PageRank.

At the moment, there seems to be no "magic potion" for giving your site "Most popular" status. Fortunately, if you spend time creating a title that begins with a number or a letter that is close to the beginning of the alphabet, you'll be listed near the top anyhow.

If new information surfaces, I'll update this article. For now, I suggest working on your click popularity and link popularity / PageRank if you want to become one of the most popular.

This icon is given to your site at the time it gets listed in the directory. The New! sign boosts you to the top of the category, below the Most Popular sites and above the sites that have sunglasses.

The icon lasts for a week, after which it disappears. Unless you have the sunglasses or are listed under Most Popular, you'll drop down to your appropriate place under the alphabetical listings at this point. Many sites experience a drop in their traffic from Yahoo after the first week, and the New! icon is mostly the reason why.

At the time your site is reviewed for inclusion in the directory, it is also considered as a possible candidate for the sunglasses icon. If the editor reviewing your site thinks that your site is significantly better than the other sites about the same subject, you might get the sunglasses next to your listing.

Should you get the sunglasses, your site will be permanently listed above all of the alphabetical listings. The sunglasses are a fairly permanent thing and are rarely taken away once they are given.

A site may have sunglasses and be listed under Most Popular at the same time. Only sites listed in non-commercial categories can receive the sunglasses.

Search feature
Having a visible position within your category is good, but the truth is that most visitors use the search feature to find sites. Hence, if you wish to utilize the full potential of your Yahoo listing, you must ensure that your site ranks well when someone performs a search for your most important keywords.

It's vital to remember that your ranking is largely determined by the title, description and URL you submit to Yahoo, along with the name of the category you submit to. So, please study this subject before your first submission, as fixing an unsatisfactory listing at a later date is extremely difficult.

Final words
That's it. We've now gone over just about everything that I think you should know before you submit to Yahoo. All that is left is to wish you success and patience in your task, because you're likely to need both.

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