November 28, 2006

Do You Really Want that #1 Ranking in Yahoo??

Here’s one reason why Yahoo Rankings & Google Rankings can be mutually exclusive (brainiacs: that means you can’t have them both simultaneously), in the absense of major brand recognition or humongous link pop.

Recently a client asked me if a decline in Yahoo rankings (formerly all top 3′s, now just top 10′s) had anything to do with the increase in organic Google rankings. Naturally, he wanted to improve the Yahoo rankings as quickly as possible. My initial thought was “fine, no problem, I know how to do that“, but it was immediately blocked with the recollection of another jewel this client provided me just a few days earlier:

…In the future we should avoid all “Grey Areas” with regard to Google Ethics and Guidelines. We don’t want to ever take a chance of having our Site pulled down permanently. Even if our competitors are doing Gray Area tactics we should not. Google has gotten me a little scared of what they can do if they want to. Now, that we are ranking extremely well everyone wants to see us go down, especially our competitors. Everyone will be watching our every move. We have to be careful….

The client makes some totally valid points and I absolutely respect his wishes to be boyscout white-hat But what does this mean for the off-white SEO tactics that took the site straight to the top of Yahoo?? Anyone can blog comment spam their own way to the top of Yahoo or MSN. That’s why so many of the sites atop those search engines are so noticeably absent from Google’s page 1. But if a client really wants to abide by those golden rules, and if said client is “in-between link popularity empires”, what are the consequences for multi-engine success??

This really speaks to the nature of the gray area that really makes up the vast majority of the real SEO field of battle. I’m sick of anyone who talks about “white hat” vs. “black hat” (yes, I totally see and cringe at this irony, albeit slightly strengthened by those who tread before me), but there has to be some discussion about battle on the field of gray.

What do you think? Considering the disclaimer above (major brand recognition or huge link pop), are white-hat seo and top yahoo rankings exclusive? Are these top Google rankings & top Yahoo rankings exclusive? What are we missing here??

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