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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. apromotionguide.com)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
. 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
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
3420 Central Expressway
Santa Clara, CA 95051, USA
How the search and the ranking
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.