Yahoo Search Marketing’s New Quality Ranking : Patent Info & How To’s

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On Monday February 5th, Yahoo! will be going full speed ahead with the US based relaunch of Yahoo Search Marketing and its new ranking model which will focus on advertiser quality, relevancy, bid price and performance instead of the current bidding only placement system.

As a result of the new Yahoo Search Marketing ‘Panama’, Yahoo feels that they will still be able to provide relevant search results for users, which adding more value to their advertising base.


When the new ranking model goes into effect, both bid and the ad’s quality together will determine where an ad appears in the search results.

The quality of an ad will be determined by its historical performance in the new system and its expected performance relative to other ads displayed at the same time. Ads of higher quality will generally receive better placement on the results page.

Google AdWords also uses a quality score for its ranking which is also based on landing page quality along with bid amounts and ad performance.

How Does Yahoo Search Marketing Rank by ‘Quality’?

Yahoo Search Marketing says that its Quality Index is determined by two factors:

1. The ad’s historical performance – its click-through rate relative to competitors and normalized for position.
2. The ad’s expected performance – determined by various relevance factors considered by Yahoo!’s ranking algorithms, relative to other ads displayed at the same time.

Sometimes one of the best ways to figure out how search engines rank organic and/or sponsored listings is by looking at US Patent Applications. I found one in the Patent App database which was filed by Yahoo Inc. last year dubbed :
Matching and ranking of sponsored search listings incorporating web search technology and web content

The patent application was filed on January 18th, 2006. Here’s an excerpt from deep in the patent app description which may shed some light on to what Yahoo Search Marketing is basing its quality/relevancy scale on:

Features for the results from the sponsored listing database may be calculated to help determine which results are to be displayed. The features include an actual cost to the advertiser for a user 110 to click the result based, for example, on bid rankings. The features may also be determined in accordance with other factors such as historical click-through and conversion data. Historical click-through data includes information on the number of times a user 110 clicks through to the advertisers’ site when the site is provided as a result. Conversion data includes information from the advertiser regarding whether the user 110 performed an action desired by the advertiser, such as making a purchase when the user 110 visiting the advertiser’s site. Other features include rank of the result in the full sorted set of top results from the combination of the sponsored listing database and general web content database and a relevance score difference and ratio from top results of the general web content database. Other features of the result include whether the query word/phrase appears in the title, abstract, URL, display host, bidded keyphrase, and/or algorithmically generated keywords or summaries of the result.


Yahoo Search Marketing’s ‘Quality Ranking’ could look at these factors as being the most important:

* Bid or Click Price
* Historical click-through data
* Conversion data
* Organic Rankings of the said Advertiser URL
* Whether the query word/phrase appears in the title
* Keyword in URL
* Keywords on Landing Page
* Possibly other Keyphrases in Campaign
* Comparison between other sites advertising for keyterm

How can advertisers improve the quality of their ads and rank above their competition?

Here are some methods which could better your ranking within Yahoo Search Marketing Sponsored Listings:

1. Call to Action in Active Ad Copy
2. Compelling Title Tag
3. Geotargeted Advertising
4. Use of Searched Keyword in Ad Copy
5. Use of A/B Split Ad Copy Testing to See Which Works Better
6. Try Dayparting : Running More or Less Ads During Certain Part of the Day
7. Test Landing Pages : Run With the Higher Converting Ones
8. Inclusion of Text Based Keyphrases on Landing Page
9. Use Keywords in Landing Page URL
10. Use of a recognizeable domain

New Yahoo Search Marketing More Advertiser Friendly?

The base of the change is centered around the pillars of quality, performance and marketing communication.

Instead of an outdated bidding system, Yahoo hopes that the new ranking system will be understandable and predictable by both the common search marketer, the beginner, small business or traditional ‘offline’ advertising agency.

With this change, Yahoo! is providing advertisers with industry-leading marketplace visibility and features that allow them to better understand their performance and make informed marketing decisions.

Advertisers who have upgraded to the new system (code named “Panama”) can gauge the quality of their ads by viewing the prominently displayed quality index within the Panama application.

Yahoo! also provides advertisers with an estimated average position and estimated forecast of clicks for their ad campaigns, based on budget allocation and ad quality.

Yahoo! plans to begin the roll out of the new platform in non-US markets in Q2 2007. International rollout will be conducted on a market-by-market basis and will follow a similar process as in the U.S. by introducing the system interface first, followed by the new ranking model.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • It is great to see Yahoo following a similar route to Google and using quality as a factor in grading. It will force advertisers to use solid copywriting and direct marketing principles in setting up ad campaigns.

    What is interesting is that this is a trend pretty much on the Internet. Most offline advertising couldn’t care less about the quality of your ads as long as you pay the placement fee. Maybe this trend on with Google and Yahoo will begin to change the way all advertising is done, time will tell.

  • I agree that it is nice to see Yahoo follow Google’s idea. It would be nice however to see some originality.

  • Just posted about this (link in my name) but I have a question: How would they utilize organic rankings to determine the relevancy of a PPC landing page when most of the time these pages are not even indexed? We rarely link directly to our main pages in PPC capaigns, and instead create multiple landing pages for testing, being sure to noindex them to avoid duplicate content issues.

  • Gerold

    This is a great move by yahoo, sure it will add a couple of billions to its bottmline in 2007 itself.

    Also hope they also reduce the minimum bid from 10 cents to 5 cent to stay competitive with the other engines.

  • I have to wonder why it took so long to copy something that someone else was already doing.

  • Josh: Since when has google not copied other ideas, and since when has M$ not copied other ideas, and since when has apple not copied other ideas. They all steal concepts and ideas from each other and remix into new products.

    Taking ideas and building on them is called progress. Not being unoriginal.


    Jordan |

  • Jordan, “Taking ideas and building on them is called progress. Not being unoriginal.”, good call mate!

    I really would not call this a copy of Google, as Yahoo’s approach is a lot more transparent and ROI integrated than the current AdWords system.

    I mean, with Yahoo, people can (will be) actually purchase amount of clicks or set up a desired ROI/CPA in their system, and Yahoo deliver the traffic trying to meet those needs.

    Up until now, most advertisers were using third party systems to be able to do so, Yahoo is offering some of the same benefits that ad management software offers, but directly from Yahoo.

    Sure, the company was and is very slow to getting this up and running, and features such as geotargeting should have been implemented YEARS ago, but it’s not a direct copy of Google Adwords by any means.

    If anything (and not to pick sides) Google copied what Yahoo SM ( at the time) was doing and made it much better, if Yahoo can put out a better system than Google Adwords (which would be a massive challenge), more power to them.

  • a

    I know I may get slammed for this, but I like Yahoo’s customer service much more then Google’s. When I setup my Yahoo Store, and the developers were testing my account, and posted about $50 worth of commissions, I had to pay. After speaking with Yahoo, they credited me back the charges, escalating my concerns from level 1 support to level 2 support.

    While Google just isn’t as friendly from my experience. I have never heard of a story, where Google was willing to reimburse for a mistake.

    So, I’m glad Yahoo has a new search platform, which I hope will be successful.

  • Rational Beaver

    Everett: The way I read it, they are using organic results to determine the relevancy of your ad, not your landing page. Yahoo will be comparing your ad to the organic results for the same keyword. So if you’re the number 1 organic result for ‘widget’ your ad for the keyword ‘widget’ will probably get a slightly higher quality score for that. (If this is true, then firms who provide both SEO and PPC services have cause to rejoice…)

    I am sure that Yahoo will look at your landing pages as well and, if they do it like Google, they’ll use a separate spider that will simply follow the URLs you give them as your landing pages in the system.

  • From an advertisers perspective, the Yahoo Ad site is much more complicated to navigate than Google’s. Maybe my mind is just google-centric, but I understood what I was doing when advertising with Google and I often found myself lost and frustrated with Yahoo. My ads would get accepted one day….then certain key words would be removed 3 days later. Yes they have rules and everyone has rules, but I never really understood and consequently stuck with Google….so I hope that they change a few things within the Advertiser site itself as mentioned in the article.


  • I just try to set up a Marketing Ad Strategy with Yahoo and gladly will report back how things are going. So far I like what I see and hear as Yahoo seems to pay specific attention to the local Advertiser or so called local Market. Will also compare it directly to MSN as I have used some of their beta and test solutions with good results. Valid Search Results on the local Business Market have to improve much more with all three Players. The Results just vary in many cases just too much or are irrelevant to the Search

  • I am going to be slammed for this, but as I have 15 accounts with Yahoo I feel I have the right, the whole upgrade is a disaster… this is a highly complicated beast of an upgrade full of good intent, but lets face it, when you have 30% of the market share you need a system that requires 30% of the time, I currently spend 1-3 hours week on Google, but 8-12 hours on yahoo. Nightmare, the return is no longer there with this new system, sorry.

    I can explian more, check my Blog.

  • I have not paid a dime for any hits to anyone for anything. But my ranking in Google rose above my usurper’s site in which he paid for hits. Google demonstrates 11.6 hits to only 1 from Yahoo. And I have only started with two select AdSense ads just last week (10-25-07)

  • On Google my ad quality rank is at the highest.
    Same one on Yahoo got only 2 of 5…

  • Like your site, and all the great tips that are mentioned on it, it has really helped out. Thanks!

  • Interesting to read the older data…. currently writing up an article about the history of Yahoo marketing efforts. Thanks for taking up the time to post such a wonderful article!

  • Interesting to read the older data…. currently writing up an article about the history of Yahoo marketing efforts. Thanks for taking up the time to post such a wonderful article!