28th August 2007

I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about Yahoo selling its search results , and now I’m seeing another anomaly that appears as if those “unmarked, yet sponsored serps” may be available for sale in other ways too.

If you do a search on Yahoo right now for “Wii”, you’ll be given all of the following:

  • 3 sponsored results in a tinted box at the top, and a bunch of sponsored results on the right side.
  • Another listing with a red Y logo appearing below the sponsored links, but above the actual number 1 organic, with stars and links to user reviews on the Yahoo shopping site.
  • Immediately below those, there are three links to three more domains.
  • Below those three links are the words “Yahoo Shortcut” and a link to “About”.

Yahoo search for Wii .jpg

Following that link to About leads to “What is a Yahoo shortcut” with a screenshot that is NOT including any of these mysterious links. Hmmm…

In the text on that page, to the left of the Yahoo provided screen shot, it explains that:

“Some of the content may come from partners who pay to be included in Yahoo! or have another financial relationship with Yahoo!”

What is the criteria for determining whether you are one of those three listed?

Is it the price? Clearly not, because at $499, the second listing is nowhere in the ballpark of even being considered a good deal.

When I posted about similar links on Google, Matt Cutts commented the following:

The links in Google’s flight OneBox were chosen for merit. They’re not paid in any way and no money changed hands. So this is completely different than Yahoo’s paid-but-unlabeled Special K promotion.

Besides taking the wind out of my sails for that post, Matt clearly pointed out that Google’s rankings are not for sale unless they are clearly labeled as such.

What determines Yahoos placement of these links? Does anyone know?

Is it relevance? I don’t think so because the domain name is not even specific to Nintendo Wii, or even to video games, and the pages are not particularly good.

Is it inbound links? Nope, not looking like it…

Ahh, all three seem to be running their shopping cart from Yahoo Store… Is that it?

Well ONE of those three links was to Amazon this morning, but when I had time to write, and went back to get the screen shot, it was all Yahoo

Are there some sponsored programs that are only offered through inside sales people at Yahoo? If these three listings underneath ARE through a “financial relationship”, how do we sign up to play this game?

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    6 Responses to More Yahoo Rankings for Sale… How?

    1. Kent Schnepp says:

      Scott –

      As far as I can tell those are all results from Yahoo Shopping. If you click on the main link (takes you to Yahoo shopping), then click on the “compare prices” tab the top three results are the same as the listings on the SERP.

      I have not heard of any sponsored search program for Yahoo shortcuts.

    2. Scott says:

      Thanks Kent – But I should have pointed out that ONE of those three links was to Amazon this morning – I’ve now added that to the post…

    3. Hey, Scott . . . Rachel from EngineWorks here.

      What you have uncovered is Yahoo! offering promotional packages through their Yahoo! Shopping Portal. That is, they are integrating Yahoo! Shopping Portal results in their index. If you click on the Nintendo Wii Console link it takes you to a page in Yahoo! Shopping with these 3 vendors as top choices for consumers. This is why the links (your “mystery links”) are also being displayed in the main index. Yahoo! offers packages (I think they are called “tiles”) to vendors that target specific times of the year or specific promotions. Your example could be targeting Back 2 School, perhaps. Sometimes Yahoo! will opt-in clients deemed relevant to specific events. These types of promos are usually available leading up to seasonal events (such as Q4, etc.). The results are delineated from the main index (notice the numbering).

      That’s our take on your mystery links. Hope that sheds some light.

    4. Scott says:

      Okay, thanks, that’s making sense, but where are these packages offered? Any idea?

    5. Oleg says:

      Very interesting. I’ve been looking through their eCommerce section of the site and looking at the plans – http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/ecommerce/plans.php

      But I can’t seem to find anything about being listed in the search engine at such a prime location. Would like to know more about it. Maybe you should email Yahoo asking about this?

    6. Scott says:

      I have e-mailed, and they have not answered. Nobody seems to know anything else about how you would sign up for this, or where.

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