Contributor Connect

Content Spotlight: Top SEO Performers and Q&A with Yahoo SEO Lead Byrne Hobart

When we say that Yahoo! Contributor Network members make an impact by amplifying their voices, we mean it. It's true for many reasons, but we’d like to highlight one special way that our contributors have been scoring some really big wins: via search.

A few weeks back we showcased some content that reached a large audience by getting featured, but this time around, we'd like to emphasize some amazing SEO wins.  Specifically, many of our Yahoo! Sports contributors have been knocking it out of the park lately through search engine queries. In fact, these Yahoo! Sports pieces published via Yahoo! Contributor Network were among the top SEO performers for all of Yahoo! in their month of publication:

2012 NFL Playoff Schedule (Conference Championships)

WWE Royal Rumble Preview

Why Tim Tebow Will Never Win a Super Bowl

It's an impressive accomplishment to rank so highly sitewide for a destination viewed by millions. To find out just why these articles were so search-friendly, we asked Yahoo! SEO lead Byrne Hobart. He enlightened us on how contributors can grow their traffic, one story at a time.

1.  Most of these articles are based on specific events. Does event-based content tend to get more search hits? Any tips on how to take searchable events and frame them in a way that will attract Web searchers? What is the typical window of time in which events such as these will receive the most search traffic?

As a news site, we do particularly well when we're writing about events. We have access to plenty of straight-news syndication partners, and our in-house writers do some really great in-depth reporting, too. Where YCN stands out is in providing perspectives—a fan's perspective, a voter's perspective, a mom's perspective, etc.

Sometimes, we find that our traditional staff didn't cover a big trending story, but a YCN member did, and thanks to that coverage, we rank.

The time window is usually "as soon as possible," but one trick for stories that break later in the day is to write up the "aftershock" stories that come the next day. For example, Jeremy Lin searches started to really take off the day after his first huge game.

2. We've heard that duplicative content or extraneous URLs can have a negative impact on SEO. Can you remark on the importance or original content in terms of searchability? 

We love original content! While Yahoo! has plenty of wire stories, it's hard for us to rank well with them, and the path of least resistance for us is to rank with something original. Because Yahoo! is such a trusted site, we do sometimes rank with wire stories, but we'd rank better if we had an original on the same topic.

3. Jeff DeLuca’s piece, "Why Tim Tebow Will Never Win a Super Bowl," could be considered op-ed. Search engines often favor objective, fact-based reporting over commentary. Can you give us any insight into how/why a commentary piece might gain an edge during the news cycle?

Search engines like objective stories, but searchers love an angle. And search engines are getting better at serving up diverse views. That's logical: A list of 10 completely objective retellings of the same story is just less interesting than one objective recap and nine opinionated angles. And which are you more likely to tweet: a story that just repeats the facts, or a story that takes a stand?

4. All of these articles were published on Yahoo! Sports. Is Yahoo! Sports is particularly optimized? Why do you think articles published on Yahoo! Sports saw so much search traffic in the month of January?

Yahoo Sports is an amazing property. As it turns out, sports is particularly easy to do SEO on, because the topic has a natural site architecture: You can divide sports into the individual sports, then leagues, then teams, then players, then games, and every new story we publish can get links and relevancy from those topics. And sports attracts fans like few other subjects. It would be great to have people who do the same kind of fan-based reporting on news, entertainment, lifestyles, and other topics.

5. What else should our contributors keep in mind when writing that will improve their content’s SEO?

Always ask yourself: Should this be one of the five or so stories that you see when you search for the topic? If not, there's nothing wrong with narrowing things down until you know you can add a lot of value. Yahoo!'s strategy isn't to just do what other sites are doing and hope we can win because we're Yahoo!; YCN is a platform to give the Web what it's missing, and SEO is the way to make sure those stories get to the people who'd want to read them.


Are you wondering how you can improve the SEO of your own content? SEO lead Byrne Hobart has agreed to answer a few questions from our contributors in a follow-up blog post. If you have a question for Byrne, submit it via Stay tuned!

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  • Darren Koobs  3/22/2012

    This will be very helpful, thanks!

  • SJ Johnson  3/20/2012

    Good tips! Thanks!

  • Anthony Hopper  3/19/2012

    This article was very helpful to me. Thanks for writing it.

  • Gary Burkard  3/19/2012

    Thanks for the insight!

  • Dalia Bose  3/19/2012

    Great informative piece. Thank you and look forward to learning more from YCN.

  • Marilisa Sachteleben  3/19/2012

    I love this focus on searchers (aka people) vs. search engines (aka machines).

  • Linda Ann Nickerson  3/19/2012

    Good pointers!

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