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Has The Yahoo/Google Split Changed Referral Rates

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Now that Yahoo and Google have parted ways and we’ve had a few months for the dust to settle what’s really happened?

Discuss this and other SEO topics at WebProWorld.

If you’re speaking in terms of SERPs, the short answer would be, well, not really a whole lot. You can check Ranking.Thumbshots.com and find that the overlap in the SERPs for Google and Yahoo is fairly high, running anywhere from 40-60% depending on what you’re searching. If Google is the standard for relevance in the industry, Yahoo seems to have succeeded in measuring up at least.

SERPs aside, there is some evidence that referrals from Yahoo are on the move. Some members of the SearchengineWatch forum have started a thread claiming a noticeable change in their Yahoo referrals.

For most sites, Google is hands down the number one source for search engine traffic; the posters in this thread cite numbers anywhere from 35% to 56% Google referrals. Yahoo, on the other hand, tends to bring in significantly less (to the tune of 10-15%). But that was the old Yahoo

Elizabeth, a forum editor at SearchengineWatch, posts that her Yahoo referrals have recently boomed to Google-esque proportions accounting for 25-35% of her referrals. Her Google numbers typically run in the 35-45% range. Other posters who were experiencing a similar boost further validated Elizabeth’s claims.

Interestingly enough, the exact opposite phenomenon was reported from other posters. Specifically, those working with sites focused on the B2B/Tech sector were seeing a measurable decline in their Yahoo referrals. Mel Nelson reported in his post that Yahoo traffic for his tech related sites had actually decreased more than 10% from March to May.

Given the few isolated examples here it’s hard to say with any degree of certainty exactly what is causing the referral anomalies these sites are observing. That being said, the data presented, however limited, is certainly worth taking note of. As Bill Hartzer observes, perhaps Yahoo is generating more referrals for consumer based sites whereas the tech sector continues to favor the Google results they are accustomed to.

Yahoo has been around for a long time. They have an established base of users not only for search and directory traffic but also their extremely popular email and instant message programs. It isn’t hard to see where Yahoo might perceive an edge in the consumer market. Could the increase in referrals to the consumer sites and decline in tech referrals be the result of Yahoo playing to what they believe to be their strengths?

While it may be premature to start labeling Yahoo as a consumer engine and Google as a business engine, it will be interesting to see how things pan out. If you are working on a consumer-oriented site, it may be worth your while to keep your eye on the Y! for the next few months. As a distribution platform, Yahoo has very few peers in the online market and it looks like they’re bringing their A’ game so far.

Mike is a manager at iEntry. He has been with iEntry since 2000.

Has The Yahoo/Google Split Changed Referral Rates
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