Yahoo and MSN on RANKS.NL

  |  January 28, 2009   |  Comments

A look at how a tool can show keyword density's role in positioning in Yahoo's and MSN's search engine result pages.

Learning about what page elements are required to optimize a site takes time, patience, and a good understanding about the tools available to help you improve your site's positioning for targeted keywords and keyword phrases. It also pays to have a well-rounded SEO (define) toolbox at your disposal and to know what information SEO tools can provide.

Last time, I discussed one of the RANKS.NL toolsets for determining keyword density. I examined how and potentially why certain Web pages rank for the phrase "exercise equipment" in Google. As you may recall, we ran the top 10 results through RANKS.NL and prepared a simple spreadsheet to exemplify the role keyword density could play in positioning.

RANKS.NL results showed the average keyword density for pages ranking on Google's page-one results for "exercise equipment" was 4.45 percent. On average, the phrase was repeated 9.8 times on pages ranked. All the pages ranked had "exercise equipment" placed in the page's title tag; 80 percent had the phrase in meta keywords; 70 percent presented "exercise equipment" in the link text on the page, used bold text for the phrase on the page, and accentuated the phrase in the heading tags behind the page; and 60 percent used the phrase in meta descriptions. We also learned a little something about latent semantics.

This week, let's run Yahoo and MSN search results for "exercise equipment" through RANKS.NL. After all, if you're going to optimize a Web page for a particular keyword phrase, doesn't it make sense to keep all the major search engines in mind?

First Up: Yahoo

Here's what RANKS.NL revealed about the SEO attributes that played a prominent role in contributing to the keyword density and prominence of Yahoo's top 10 results for "exercise equipment":

Yahoo results for 'exercise equipment'
click to enlarge

Based on the results, the average keyword density for "exercise equipment" on pages in Yahoo's first 10 results is 2.96 percent, and the phrase was repeated an average 5.8 times on pages ranked. All of the pages ranked had "exercise equipment" placed in the page's title tag, 80 percent had the phrase in meta keywords, and 70 percent presented "exercise equipment" in the link text and in the meta description.

One third of the pages ranked prominently displayed the phrase in headings, accentuated the phrase with bold text, or both. Only 20 percent of the Web pages ranked displayed the phrase in the URL or alternative attributes. None of the pages ranked used italics as a way to make "exercise equipment" more prominent on the page.

I should note that we captured a great example of a Yahoo SearchMonkey Wikipedia result in position eight during this process:

Yahoo SearchMonkey result
click to enlarge

I'm relatively certain some exercise equipment makers and sellers are a nonplussed by the new development that pushed their listings to page two. It's not that I'm anti-Wikipedia; it's just that I consider the standard 10 blue links to be hallowed ground for natural search results. Yes, I'm biased. Yahoo could have done a little more work to adjust its interface rather than produce unnatural results that force users to opt out of seeing the results on a permanent basis. Ask has the best visual presentation that combines natural search results along with all the other whosits and whatsits that blended search provides. Yahoo could have taken a page from Ask's exemplarily interface.

MSN's Turn

Here's what RANKS.NL revealed about the SEO attributes that played a role in contributing to the keyword density of "exercise equipment" in MSN's first 10 results:

MSN results for 'exercise equipment'
click to enlarge

Based on the results, the average keyword density for "exercise equipment" is 5.59 percent, and the phrase was repeated an average 7.5 times. All the pages ranked had "exercise equipment" placed in the title tag and meta keywords, 80 percent had the phrase in link text, 70 percent presented "exercise equipment" in the meta description, and 60 percent accentuated the phrase in heading tags.

Half the pages ranked had "exercise equipment" in their alternative attributes, while 40 percent accentuated the phrase with bold text and 10 percent used italics. Like Yahoo, only 20 percent of the Web pages ranked displayed the two-word phrase in the URL.

You can learn a lot about SEO just by performing a simple observation exercise. Next time, we'll roll all the results together to determine which elements of keyword density help optimize a Web page in each of the major engines. Until then, if you haven't done so already, give RANKS.NL a whirl on your optimized Web pages for targeted phrases and feel free to share some of your SEO observations here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

P.J. Fusco

P.J. Fusco has been working in the Internet industry since 1996 when she developed her first SEM service while acting as general manager for a regional ISP. She was the SEO manager for Jupitermedia and has performed as the SEM manager for an international health and beauty dot-com corporation generating more than $1 billion a year in e-commerce sales. Today, she is director for natural search for Netconcepts, a cutting-edge SEO firm with offices in Madison, WI, and Auckland, New Zealand.

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