Ginger or Mary Ann? yahoo! answers

For those who don’t know, Yahoo! Answers is (quoting their official blog) “a place where people ask each other questions on any topic and get answers by sharing facts, opinions, and personal experiences.”

I hadn’t paid much attention to Yahoo! Answers until Danny Sullivan talked about it recently at the May SES Conference in Seattle. Danny wrote an excellent overview of Yahoo’s “social networking” vehicle, but my approach in this article will be somewhat different.

There is a lot of inaccurate information online about search engine optimization. SEO is a very challenging/ever-changing topic for a newbie to understand. The neophyte often does not realize that much of the SEO information on the Internet is incorrect, out of date, or biased. While online resources like forums offer accurate SEO information (if you search hard enough or have a trusted member answer your question), most are very intimidating to people looking for the basic knowledge that regulars already possess. .

Wouldn’t it be nice if basic (and more advanced) SEO information could be accurately asked and answered in an open, stress-free online environment? maybe yahoo! Answers is such a place.

So, I joined the party and started asking some basic SEO questions:

Will I get better search engine rankings by submitting my website manually or by using submission software?

What is the best way to get my new poker website to the top of Google?

These are typical newbie questions I asked in the hope that an SEO expert would enlighten me by offering the following correct answers:

  1. You do not need to submit websites to search engines, and even if you did, submitting has no effect on the rankings you may receive.
  2. Forget it.

Unfortunately, no one at Yahoo! Answers community answered me like this. I came to the conclusion that beginner SEO questions, asked by myself or others I surveyed, attracted responses that tended to perpetuate the already high level of SEO misinformation. People who leave such replies also tend to put a lot of self-service links on their posts.

I got much better answers when I asked more advanced questions:

What was the effect of Google’s “Florida” update on SEO methodology?

I immediately got a relevant answer on the topic with an authoritative link on the topic.

What is latent semantic analysis and how relevant is it to search engine optimization?

A very challenging question and although no one answered it directly, at least I was directed to the Wikipedia page on the subject.

For fun, I asked a few non-SEO questions and learned quite a bit doing it.

Ginger or Mary Ann?

At SES Seattle, Danny mentioned that Yahoo! The answers would be integrated into Yahoo SERPS. But how much strength would they be given?

Someone else asked the same question when I landed in the Yahoo Top 10. It remains to be seen how long the question will remain in such a high ranking. While I don’t expect a Yahoo! The answers result in a very high ranking for an ultra-competitive e-commerce term, if you’re targeting some specific “long-tail” keywords, I think it would be a worthwhile exercise to answer questions relevant to them. In your answer, you would make repeated use of your terms in a manner consistent with good writing style.

In short, SEOs will need to understand how to work optimally with Yahoo! Answers as part of your overall search engine strategy. As more SEOs begin to participate in the process, hopefully they will help increase the quality of responses currently given to people asking SEO questions.

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