Paid links have always been a contentious issue in the search engine marketing world. Google has always been quite vocal on where they stand with paid links – paying for links for the purpose of influencing PageRank, or your rankings is a big NO NO!
Yahoo! and MSN have been much quieter on the topic, until recently when Eric Enge from Search Engine Watch & Stone Temple Consulting, interviewed Priyank Garg, Director of Product Management for Yahoo! Search Technology.
Here are some of the key questions and answers from the interview:
Eric Enge: So, what about just paid links in general? What’s your policy on that?
Priyank Garg: There’s no black and white policy that makes sense in our mind for paid links. The principle remains value to the users. If a paid link is not valuable to the users, we will not want to give it value.
Our algorithms are being organized for detecting value to users. We feel most of the time that paid links are less valuable to users than organic links. Yahoo! continues to focus on the element of recognizing links that are valuable to users, building mechanisms in our algorithms that attenuate the signal and capture as much value from that link in context, rather than worrying about it being paid or unpaid. As I said before, paid links are found to be generally less useful to users.
Eric Enge: So, what are the kinds of things that Yahoo typically does to fight spam?
Priyank Garg: We use algorithmic and editorial means to fight spam. What we have found is algorithms are very effective at fighting spam at the large scale, and our human editors are very effective at recognizing new techniques and providing us that early signal, which we can use to scale-up the detection processes. This two step approach helps us to be recognized as one of the best in the industry.
We show the least spam among the search engines, because both of our techniques are in action. Our spam detection techniques run on every page, every time we crawl it. Those detection algorithms are fed directly into our ranking function, where the spam detection is actually pretty high in importance.
Eric Enge: What is it that Yahoo does when you discover duplicate content across two different sites and how does it deal with that in terms of the quality of the search experience?
Priyank Garg: Our goal is to surface good, unique content for users and provide the maximum amount of relevant information for every query the user makes. So, our efforts are constantly to detect duplicate content sources, recognize the parent source as much as possible, and attribute content as much as possible to the parent or the original author for duplicate content. Then we try and surface that for every query that we receive that it’s relevant for. Say site-A has content which is duplicated on site-B, and we recognize that A is the parent, then for a query related to that content will likely surface A higher. But if a query says I want content from side B on those terms, we will obviously try to surface that.
To read the full interview transcript, please click here.
So it appears that Yahoo! seems to be less strict on paid links. I wonder if this is a contributing factor as to why they only hold 20% of the search engine market share, while Google dominates at 61%.