Persian Kitty

How does Yahoo! work?

I only got one result from Yahoo! for a search on one of their most popular search terms ("persian kitty"). Pretty remarkable, since usually I get 1000's of results, or nothing at all.

After checking the html and making sure that it wasn't a truly unique site, I had a look at how Yahoo! works. As it turns out, Yahoo! doesn't use either metatags or the first 250 characters to catagorise WWW pages. It uses information provided at the time that the link is added. Here is an extract from their instructions for adding pages.

Title - This is the name that will appear in Yahoo!
URL - Uniform Resource Locator, or in other words, your http:// address on the internet.
Comment - A short sentence (20 words max) that describes what is on the page.
Fair enough. That means that the people at Persian Kitty were the only people who had included "persian kitty" in their name or their 20 word description.

Suddenly it occured to me that there might be other groups of words in that list of search terms that might lead to unique results. Sure enough, " netscape software", (number 5 on the list), returns only one result on Yahoo!! It doesn't even have the words in the title - just in the 20 word description. That description is pretty important.

So "persian kitty" is not so unique or clever after all. And probably anyone who had been using Yahoo! for longer than me could have told me that. To test the idea, I decided to conduct a little experiment.