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November 28, 2007

Unleash the Power of Yahoo Search Submit Pro

Search Submit Pro (SSP) is designed primarily for large direct and brand marketers. With Search Submit Pro, Yahoo! crawls your web site as well as an optimized XML feed that represents the content on your site. Yahoo! applies its algorithm to both the actual web site pages and the XML feed to determine which listing is most appropriate to appear in the organic search results when a user conducts a search for relevant terms. Yahoo! charges a CPC, determined by category, for each time a listing established through SSP is clicked on. The CPC charged is usually significantly cheaper than the CPC the site is paying in paid search.

Components of a Yahoo! SSP feed

For every URL that is submitted, the following corresponding XML components must be present in the feed:

Doc URL – the landing page URL of the page submitted; this will appear as the URL under the search listing

Title – the title of the page, which will also serve as the title in the search results

Description – summary of the content on the page; will also appear as the search result description

Body – additional copy that explains the content a user would find on the page

Keywords – a list of 12 keywords that the page is most relevant to

Tracking URL – if you want to track the placement through a third party ad serving platform such as Atlas, Doubleclick or a third party analytics package, you would include the appropriate tracking URL information here. This URL is not visible to the user.

How to get started

If you are a web marketer and are interested in having your site participate in SSP the first step is to contact your Yahoo! rep or a trusted reseller of feeds. A trusted reseller is a company that has demonstrated to Yahoo! through a lengthy testing period that it has the technology, experience, and ability to produce high quality feeds on behalf of clients.These resellers have partnerships with, and work very closely with, Yahoo! to deliver the best results for clients. While marketers could work directly with Yahoo!, the majority work with resellers as usually there isn’t an additional fee for doing so. Yahoo! shares a percentage of the click costs with resellers as Yahoo! recognizes the value that the resellers bring to the table in providing a level of editorial review, optimization, reporting, and customer service.

The next step is to determine which pages should be submitted through SSP. The majority of sites submit their home page (which is referred to as a TLP – Top Level Page), category pages and product pages. If you are working with Yahoo! or a reseller, usually you will need to provide a raw data feed of these pages that will be used to build the optimized XML feed. This shouldn’t be a difficult task for an IT team as the information required typically exists in a database.

If you are only going to be submitting the home page and category pages and these pages don’t change very often, then a raw data feed is not necessary as the information can easily be pulled directly from these pages. In some cases, when it is not possible for a marketer to pull a raw data dump, a reseller might employ crawling technology on the site to pull the needed data. This should be a last resort; as even the best crawling technology will not capture the full site, it will run into the same types of problems that search engine spiders do.

Optimizing a paid inclusion feed

Once the data is acquired it is time to build the optimized XML feed. Like a shopping feed, you can make modifications to your feed (within reason) to be more “optimized” both for keywords and for user clicks. You can control the copy on your listing in the organic results.
Building an optimized XML feed is similar in some cases to optimizing meta data and web copy for SEO. The first step is keyword research to determine phrases that lead to a large amount of traffic and/or conversions. It is important that the title, description, body, and keyword field for each URL contain keyword-rich copy specific to that URL.
In 2006 Yahoo! rolled out a new feature called Quick Links, which should also be considered when building the TLP feed.
Yahoo! is allowing advertisers in SSP who submit their TLP page to utilize Quick Links. These can be about 30 characters in length and are used to lead users to deeper pages in the site that might relevant to their immediate needs. For example, a user searching on “ING” could now click directly to the mortgage, savings account, or certificate of deposit section of the site. Yahoo! is reporting that only 1-5% of the clicks on the TLP are generated through the Quick Links. However, these clicks do tend to convert higher, and just the presence of Quick Links helps the listing to stand out in the search results.

SSP Reporting

Sites participating in SSP also have access to extended reporting for traffic generated through the SSP program, which can provide interesting insight to search marketing campaigns since traffic is supposedly “organic” and not part of clearly disclosed advertising section. Advertisers can see the following:
Clicks per URL
Top Clicks
Click Data
URL Status Data
Feed Status
Share of Voice
Demographic Insights – age, gender
Geographic Insights – DMA, state, time zone
SSP offers several advantages over regular crawling:

  • Capture dynamic or seasonal content
    • Ensure all relevant products/information are represented in Yahoo!
    • Drive traffic to popular information/new products
  • Better control of titles and descriptions
  • Improve CTR by utilizing customized, fresh messaging
  • Targeted marketing messages
  • Sync offline/online messaging
  • Include seasonal promotional messaging
  • Include sale/discount/free shipping promotional messaging
  • Less than 48-hour refresh
    • Quickly add new products/content to Yahoo! Search
    • Quickly remove products/content that are out of stock or out of date
    • Fast optimization of titles and descriptions based on best performance
  • Insights and reports
    • Demographic / geographic insights
    • Keyword discovery
      • Find valuable “tail” keywords to add to Sponsored Search campaigns

SO why isn’t everybody participating in Yahoo! SSP? First, many marketers are not aware of the program; and second, some are concerned that they might be paying for traffic that they would otherwise be getting for free in the organic search results. This will probably differ by advertiser and would depend on the extent of their paid search program, percentage of overall pages listed in Yahoo, the current organic rankings for these pages, the marketability of the title and descriptions for these listings, and the need to get information into the search results in a timely manner.

Author:  Rob is the founder of Avenue A| Razofish’s search engine optimization department. He serves as the senior search engine optimization expert for the agency, and oversees the agency’s feed management offering. In addition he sets the strategic vision for all organic search technology product development initiatives for Avenue A| Razorfish.