Yahoo Submissions Survey

In August 1997, a survey asking about people's experiences submitting to Yahoo was posted on the site. In all, 162 usable responses were collected. This is an extremely small sample, so the results are hardly conclusive in describing the Yahoo submission process. However, they do provide a rough glimpse into some factors. In particular, the comments are enlightening about the general trouble people having in getting listed in the guide.

General Findings
Yahoo seems to be accepting a smaller percentage of submissions than in the past, but processing those it does accept much faster than it used to. Having a root URL (described below) seemed to slightly increase the chance of being listed. Odds seem much more against those who submit sites using free web space. Overall, people found the submission process a frustrating experience, using terms such as "merry-go-found" and "black hole" to describe it.

Getting Listed
Just over of a quarter of those responding said that their sites were accepted. The acceptance rate was much higher before 1997, when examined by year.

Are You Listed? Responses No Yes
Submitted in 1995 5 0% 100%
Submitted in 1996 25 60% 40%
Submitted in 1997 132 77% 23%
All sites 162 72% 28%

Profile Of Those Listed
More than half of those listed got in without resubmitting, and they were listed in about a month. When examined by year, listings appeared within a month for 1997 submissions but took much longer in past years. Those who did resubmit made about three attempts before getting in. There were 45 respondents who said they were listed.

Question No / Average Yes / Median
Did You Resubmit? 60% 40%
If So, How Many Times? 3.6 3.0
How Many Weeks Until Listed?
(Submitted in 1995)
14.0 8.0
How Many Weeks Until Listed?
(Submitted in 1996)
14.9 15.0
How Many Weeks Until Listed?
(Submitted in 1997)
5.3 3.0
How Many Weeks Until Listed
8.4 4.0

Profile Of Those Not Listed
Nearly all of those not listed have tried resubmitting their sites. They are also persistant. Those submitting originally in 1996 have resubmitted more often than those originally submitting in 1997. That's a sign that they have continued try to be listed, rather than making an attempt or two and then giving up. There were 117 respondents who said they were listed.

Question No / Average Yes / Median
Did You Resubmit? 21% 79%
If So, How Many Times?
(Submitted in 1996)
5.7 4.5
If So, How Many Times?
(Submitted in 1997)
3.5 3.0
If So, How Many Times?
3.8 3.0

Ways To Improve The Odds?
Three factors were compared that are commonly believed to influence acceptance of a listing.

Category Not
Root URL 50% 66%
Regional Site 41% 36%
Free Web Site
(AOL, CompuServe, GeoCities or Tripod)
88% 12%

"Root URL" refers to a site that submitted a short URL, such as, rather than a long one such as˜mysite/. Hosting companies generally charge more to establish a root URL service, which means that sites may be viewed as a more "serious" effort on the web, among other reason. Sites that were listed were slightly more likely to have root URLs than those not listed.

"Regional Site" means that the site was either regional in nature or submitted to a regional version of Yahoo. It is widely reported that submitting to a regional guide greatly increases the chances of being listed. However, regional sites did not dominate those listed.

"Free Web Site" refers to sites hosted at either AOL, CompuServe, GeoCities or Tripod. These sites cost nothing to maintain, or are complimentary with an online subscription. Consequently, they are sometimes viewed as less "serious" marketing attempts. There were 16 of these sites found in the survey. Only two, one from Tripod and one from GeoCities, were listed.

There's no way to measure the "quality" of the sites that reported being listed or not listed in the survey. The root URL measurement is one attempt to do this, and by that measure, the listed sites seem of slightly more importance than the non-listed sites. However, there were a good number of root URLs among the non-listed sites, including two US governmental sites, one that was quite prominent. Clearly, some sites do slip through the cracks.

The small numbers mean that it is hard to make concrete conclusions, but the comments received describe a great frustration with the submission process, in particular with the inability to make changes to listings and the circular nature of resubmitting. This frustration comes from both those not listed in Yahoo and those listed.