Yahoo: Mad with the Power of it All

Ian Lurie

businessman with baseball bat. Isolated on white
Last week, a colleague of mine told me her web site was banned from Yahoo!. Why? We don’t know for sure, but it appears her site was banned because it’s an affiliate site – she makes money by providing a well-organized, well-promoted site that drives traffic to other web sites. Apparently, Yahoo is beginning a universal crack down on these types of sites. That’s foolish and short-sighted, and I’ll tell you why.

Not all affiliates are bad. My friend’s site is easy to use, well-organized and genuinely helpful. And she’s carried out a years-long search engine optimization campaign using only the highest ethical standards. She relies on good, relevant links and well-written code to gain top ranking. Why ban her site? Is she defrauding or deceiving visitors? No. Is she stealing traffic through unethical SEO tactics? No.

No one knows what ‘affiliate’ means. The definition of an affiliate site is blurry. If you search for, say ‘bridesmaids dresses’ on Yahoo! right now, you’ll see sites like in the top 15 results. How is that site not an affiliate marketing site? No matter what attributes Yahoo! is using, they’ll never be able to catch all of the perceived offenders.

Affiliate/directory sites have value Sites that classify, aggregate and redistribute traffic can really have value. Sure, like any web site, a bad affiliate site can be a nightmare. But a good one can add value. Isn’t Yahoo! a directory site? Don’t they make money by aggregating links? Hmmm….

Competitiveness Most important, Yahoo!, if you’re trying to compete with Google, don’t you want the most comprehensive, accurate directory possible? If you remove a whole family of sites from your directory, you won’t keep up.

Think it through, guys – and try ranking/banning sites based on their actual value, instead of value judgments, OK?

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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