Recently, Yahoo! implemented additional shortcuts to their searches, as reported by Search Engine Watch.  When typing most baseball or football player names, electronics or medications, Yahoo! provides a shortcut at the top of the search.   

The most substantial shortcut is provided when typing a professional baseball or football player name (as shown in the image below).  Yahoo! shows a huge table with the player’s statistics and fantasy sports ranking from their own database. In essence, Yahoo! is advertising their own product and giving it a Grade A+ position on their searches.  The search engine results are less affected by the electronic and medication searches, but Yahoo! still creeps its head in with some of their own product and service offerings. 

From the view of the searcher, these new implementations can be a very convenient resource for the search.  Yahoo! provides what is likely the most requested information about the search in an easy-to-find format.  Even though Yahoo! is participating in advertising their own products, they are still providing a service that gives the searcher a link or view of the requested information in the quickest way possible. 

However, at the risk of sounding like a whiner, Yahoo’s shortcut additions mean bad news for search engine optimization. More accurately, the shortcuts are bad news for the value of search engine optimization.  For example, if your website has made it to page one of the organic search, the new Yahoo! results seem to increase the chances of a searcher clicking on Yahoo’s own content instead of finding your website.  Not even mentioned is the fact that Yahoo! has eliminated Overture results in the middle of the page for the sports player names.  Perhaps Yahoo! concluded that they would make more money from promoting their own products in these spots than collecting clicks from sponsored links. 

Previously, Yahoo! would sometimes post their news results for such searches.  Still, these news results did not standout at all compared to the pictures and numbers they are showing for individual player searches.  The same goes for the pay-per-click results – the text in the pay-per-click results does not nearly standout as much as the pictures, numbers and table for the player results on Yahoo! 

Yahoo! is exploiting the area in which Google can’t touch them: Exclusive content and services.  Yahoo! has turned their news services into big business, and their sports division easily rivals that of some of the big players in the business such as ESPN.com and FOXSports.com.  But even if your website has absolutely nothing to do with sports, there should be some concern on how far Yahoo! will go with these search shortcuts.  They could easily start intruding into your product line and taking away from the value of your search engine ranking that you have worked hard to acquire. 

Before you start contemplating extreme measures, there is still some good news.  Most searches on the internet are far more detailed and complex than simply typing “cell phone” or “Peyton Manning”.  This can be described by the concept known as long tail of search (a completely different topic for another day).  Unless you have a truly focused and specific product line and landing pages that will only be found with a short and specific search, people will find your website if the information contained is truly relevant.   

Still, this issue does profile the importance of using other internet marketing strategies.  Ranking well in the organic search engine results is great, but putting all of your eggs in one basket does not maximize your website’s potential and is taking a huge risk if the search engines suddenly change their algorithms or methods and hurt your standing in the search engines. 

Just as it is a common saying to “diversify your portfolio” when making investments, it is also a good idea to diversify your internet marketing strategy and use more than one or two methods to increase traffic and sales.

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