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How Yahoo's pharased based indexing affects your website rankings

Search engine spiders are becoming more intelligent. It was possible to fool search engines with a simply meta keywords tag some years ago, but search engines have now a deeper understanding of the contents of a web page.

Yahoo recently published a patent applications that gives some insight on how Yahoo finds and evaluates keyword phrases on web pages.

What's the new patent all about?

The patent application explains how Yahoo parses web pages to find related keyword phrases. Yahoo breaks down the content of web pages into several possible phrases and matches them with a content dictionary.

Yahoo also seems to consider searches and query refinements to determine the topic of a search query. For example, Yahoo might monitor a users queries and find out that the terms "woods", "club" and "green" appear during a given query session.

The patent application also contains a lot of information about how Yahoo might work with the gathered information.

What is the essential point of the patent application?

The patent application indicates that Yahoo tries to understand concepts instead of single words. For example, someone looking for "tiger woods" isn't just searching for web pages that contain this word combination.

If a page contains the phrase "tiger woods" as well as some related keywords such as "golf", "green" and "clubs" then it is more likely a match for a search for "tiger woods" than a web page that has a story about a tiger in the woods that threatened a boy with the name Mowgli that doesn't contain the related keywords.

What does this mean for your website rankings?

When writing web pages, it can be helpful to use related keywords on a web page that has been optimized for a certain keyword. That will make it easier for search engines to understand the content of the keywords that you use on your web pages.

According to the patent application, it seems to help to use these related keywords close together on a page to make it easier for search engines to find the relation.

It will probably also help to optimize different pages of your web page for different but related search terms. That way, you can show search engines that your website is relevant to a special topic.

Using different but related keywords on different pages of your website to make your website more relevant for a special topic has already been recommended in the IBP manual (zipped PDF file).

The manual also contains information on how to optimize your web pages so that they are best prepared for high rankings on Yahoo, Google and other major search engines. It is a good read if you want to optimize your web page for high rankings.

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February 2008 search engine articles