Brands

How Yahoo Directs Traffic with Targeted Content

This post is part of the Branded Blogging Series, which features tips on how to learn from the successes of some of the most innovative and successful brand blogs.

Yahoo is a master at its craft, as demonstrated by the extraordinarily large amount of traffic it generates daily. It knows its core demographic and posts content according to their interests.

In one given day, Yahoo has upwards of 20 million article views. In one month, 700 million people visit the site. Although the site has been bested by Google in terms of search, it keeps a strong presence on the web thanks to the engaging content on its homepage.

One link to an outside news source can lead to a jump in traffic or even break a site’s traffic record.

Targeting the Audience

The reason why Yahoo has the ability to drive so much traffic to other sites that it causes servers to crash is due in part to its content algorithm, CORE, which stands for Content Optimization and Relevance Engine.

“Editors write and gather the most important and engaging stories of the day, and CORE determines how stories should be ordered, dependent on each user,”according to Marketing Land. “Similarly, CORE figures out which story categories (i.e. technology, health, finance, or entertainment) should be displayed prominently on the page to help deepen engagement for each viewer.

Yahoo itself, as well as news sites and content creators, can test what hits with audiences. For example, CORE breaks up story views into categories — gender, age, and topic — so that people can find out, for example, which stories were viewed the most by men aged 18-24 interested in finance.

A Personalized Design

The Yahoo homepage, which was redesigned in 2009, lets users shape what information they’d like to see when they sign in. On the left side of the page, underneath a list of Yahoo’s sites, there is a section for Favorites, such as Gmail, Facebook, YouTube, and whatever else the user would like to add.

“We’re pulling together everything about the user they care about, be it on Yahoo or off, to create a personally relevant experience,” Tapan Bhat, Yahoo’s senior vice president, said in an interview with CNET. “In a world like this, Yahoo needs to make the user experience come first.”

The strategy seemed to have worked. Just a few months after the launch, Bhat reported that the amount of time spent on the homepage was up 20 percent, “with page views increasing by 9 percent,” according to Adotas.com.

Along with those stats, advertisers saw a 10 percent rise in click-through rates, and Yahoo saw a 76 percent increase “in click-through rates on news and information targeted at each user in the ‘Today’ module.”

As for the personalization features themselves, 75 percent of Yahoo users claimed they “loved the apps area and 40 percent have loaded up six to 11 on their homepages.”

An Emphasis on Mobile

When the company redesigned its home page for desktop devices in 2009, it alsorevamped mobile. As a result, the homepage “is accessible by more than 1,900 different mobile devices,” says ReadWriteWeb’s Jolie O’Dell.

When the company introduced the new mobile site, it also incorporated captions on photos and allowed “users to scroll through more headlines without having to refresh content.”

Video clips loaded quickly, and the Favorites tab was fully integrated.

“The new Yahoo! mobile homepage is a well executed, updated version of the portal that ruled a much younger Internet,” O’Dell says. “It’s accessible, fast, full of interesting content and infinitely customizable.”

In a time when brands need to go mobile to keep up with users, Yahoo has more than pleased its fans.

Above all, Yahoo boasts a huge fan base because it caters to its audiences, whether they’re on mobile devices or browsing the site on their laptops. The CORE tool allows the company to see what content resonates, also helping editors and writers in return, figure out what they need to do to be featured on the site.

These are all lessons for brand bloggers and publishers can take from the Yahoo homepage.

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