Kenshoo has done a great job of illustrating these topics, i’ll just keep showing them love!
Kenshoo has done a great job of illustrating these topics, i’ll just keep showing them love!
I know I’ve been away long enough for y’all to wonder if the post I made before was going to be a one-off. Well, rejoice–I have plenty of more material in my ongoing quest to expose the whole search world. Since we discussed Google’s successful attempts at mind control last time, I figure it’s about time to talk about Yahoo. Darin wanted me to remind everyone that the opinions expressed in this feature are not necessarily those of Darin, and should not be taken as an endorsement, etc etc insert legalese here. Let’s get down to it, shall we?
**Edit: Since this post was written before the announcement of Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr, I didn’t have the chance to comment on it before it came out. But you can see what the lovely Casey Kurlander has to say about it here and what I have to say about it at the end**
A lot of us in the industry can remember a time when Yahoo was the biggest name in the game—before the rise of the Evil Empire Google and the Pretender to the Throne, Bing. At one point, in fact, Yahoo was THE search service. Sure you could go to Ask, or one of those other search sites, but they wouldn’t give you what you wanted.
And then there were the services: Yahoo! Mail. News. Chat. Weather. You could, in theory, accomplish 75% of what you needed the internet for back then without ever leaving Yahoo and that was a powerful model at the time. But then the internet grew. And grew. And the model that Yahoo held onto—the “portal” model that so many search services of the time were rushing to build on—turned to shit in their hands. But more on that later.
There are some people who have said that Yahoo is making a distinct comeback in search. Some have even pointed to the fact that Yahoo has held on to a certain percentage of search all along—not a huge one, mind you, but certainly something, blah blah blah. Most commonly cited research places their market share somewhere in the territory of 14%. But boys and girls, today I’m here to tell you: Yahoo ain’t shit.
The biggest non-secret is that if you do a little digging, you’ll find out that proper Yahoo traffic is in the single digits, a tiny little sliver of the search pie. A serving your constantly dieting sister-in-law would even tell you is too small. Based on actual traffic and actual usage, Yahoo only got about 6-7% of the market for search in 2012.
The problem is that Yahoo has no idea what to do with itself. It’s constantly a day late and a dollar short. Seriously—let’s take a look at their strategic history:
Back in 1998, Yahoo! had the opportunity to license and/or buy Revenue Loop, a new technology for sorting shopping-based search results similar to the algorithm that Google would go on to use for its ad service. Paul Graham of all people, who met with Yahoo to sell them on the tech, commented later that Jerry Yang didn’t even seem interested in the new tech; in an essay about Yahoo’s decline, Graham commented, “The reason Yahoo didn’t care about a technique that extracted the full value of traffic was that advertisers were already overpaying for it…Hard as it is to believe now, the big money then was in banner ads. Advertisers were willing to pay ridiculous amounts for banner ads.” Yahoo would stick stupidly to its banner ads model until it was already too late.
There was also that debacle with Yahoo Paid Inclusion. After years of running what basically amounted to a fucking Ponzi scheme (Hey SEC…), Yahoo launched a program that gave commercial websites guaranteed listings on the SERP after payment. The scheme was—of course—lucrative for Yahoo but it was not terribly popular either among marketers or users. So Yahoo had to do an about-face and just provide those who were actually willing to pay for the service with more frequent site crawls and providing statistics. Seriously, guys. Companies bought into the program on the basis that Yahoo would just feature their site, with no notation that it was advertising—stacking the deck, basically—and got screwed out of it. I wonder if Yahoo gave them a t-shirt.
And before any of you get on me about “Yeah, well… Bing,” I got something to say about that too. When Bing and Yahoo made their historic agreement, one of the provisions was that Microsoft was going to provide a guarantee: if Yahoo’s Revenue Per Search did not match up to an agreed-upon amount (closing the gap with what Google earns per search versus what Yahoo was earning per search at the time), Bing would make payments to Yahoo to balance the shortfall. Guess what. Yahoo’s revenue per search (RPS) has not, since the agreement started, EVER reached that goal. The provision keeps having to be renewed; Microsoft keeps having to pay Yahoo money. And here’s the real shitty part of that: by the time Yahoo is able to contractually get out of the agreement—sometime in 2014, when the five-year mark arrives—they will have spent five years NOT working on search and have to start from scratch or get themselves bought up by some other company. Because it’s not bad enough that Yahoo is the only search engine that has consistently LOST traffic in the last year or so—they’ll be the only search engine that doesn’t ACTUALLY HAVE A SEARCH ENGINE.
Then consider too that just… fuck, every time you turn around Yahoo has a new CEO. Now people want to bitch about Marissa Meyer cutting back on work-from-home and taking an active role in the hiring process. You know what? The smartest thing Yahoo has ever done is hire an ex-Google exec. And Meyer’s probably involved in the hiring process because Yahoo has quite enough idiots already working there. So stop giving Meyer such a hard time. It’s got to be tough being surrounded by folks who think taking 3 years to make algorithmic search happen is a fine timeframe.
And that, guys and girls, is why Yahoo! ain’t shit. And why they’re basically screwed.
Update: Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion, which has some people saying “Oh, well, that’s a step in the right direction” like fools. Most people are saying this though:
So before y’all open your mouths about it: Yahoo still ain’t shit, and they’re also now super broke.
Please allow me to introduce myself: I am Ms. Search and Destroy. You’ll probably notice that’s not a real name, and that’s on purpose. Darin asked me to post occasionally on his blog, to give the skinny on some of the darker side of search marketing as I see it. I told him that if I was going to do that, I sure as hell wasn’t going to link my name to it. You may not agree with me, but I hope my posts at least make you think. And now, without further ado…
I totally get that as Search Marketing professionals we’re supposed to be cheerleaders for Google. Our whole job depends on making Google happy, right? If we don’t keep on top of the new developments and changes, our clients get pissed. So that really makes me wonder why I’m not hearing more from the industry about something that’s really obvious to me.
Google is finally rolling out mind control.
I’m not wearing the latest in tinfoil couture either, so all of you can stop rolling your eyes and pay attention. At least consider some of the Google-related happenings from the past twelve months and tell me that Google ISN’T showing some suspicious signs.
First, let’s look at this “Google 7” thing. Another writer for this blog covered the fact that starting last August, Google made changes that shift from ten results to seven results, for thousands or tens of thousands of queries. No one really knows for sure what triggers a 7-result SERP; several possibilities have been tested, but nothing has been conclusively linked. Google’s reasoning, which everyone seems so happy to accept, is that they are simply trying to make sure that searchers are getting the most relevant results. Of course. Google, with its cute doodles and its great, fun workplace, is just looking out for us. Such altruism.
What Google is really saying, though, is “Don’t even worry about those other three results. They’re not important. You don’t need to see them.” But what if I, as a searcher, want to see them? Ignore for a moment the needs of a company in one of those positions—as a user, what if I want those results? I could go to page two, but why would I go there? We all know the vast majority of searches—some 90% or more—never get to the second page.
Now, understanding this, let’s look at the fact that the FTC settled with Google—only about two months ago, for fuck’s sake—in regards to Google’s business practices. Notably the FTC was concerned that “those practices could stifle competition in the markets for popular devices such as smart phones, tablets and gaming consoles, as well as the market for online search advertising” [emphasis mine]. While the FTC was bargaining with Google, the EU was conducting its own antitrust investigation; while Google was busy stroking that cat to settle its fur, Google’s competitors were practically begging the EU commission to look at any proposals Google makes with extreme caution, in addition to filing new complaints.
Let’s also look at the fact that Google’s been working on new projects to push competitors out of various spaces—such as its planned Amazon Prime competitor, Google Shopping Express, which offers users the ability to get same-day shipping from retailers—at $10-$15 cheaper than Prime. Google has also recently acquired Channel Intelligence, beefing up its Google Shopping functionality. China’s Ministry of Industry and Technology has also released a recent paper bemoaning the “heavy reliance” that Chinese smartphone developers have on Google’s Android software. Chief among the MIIT’s concerns were the fact that “China’s enterprises constantly face Google’s commercial discrimination, including the delay of timing on codesharing due to agreement restrictions.” There’s also Google’s activity in regards to the growing popularity of Samsung devices; Google acquired Motorola Mobility partly as a defensive measure to compete with Samsung, with Andy Rubin, the man behind Android, supposedly telling others that the acquisition was a “kind of insurance policy against a manufacturer such as Samsung gaining too much power over Android.”
Recent reports have suggested that the move Google is making to its new Enhanced Campaigns, along with other changes—including the 7-result SERPs—have already made for PPC inflation. PPC costs began to rise as early as October of last year, and they’re sure as hell not going down anytime soon.
Let’s look at all of this from a functional standpoint, as far as Google’s bottom line is concerned:
No matter what way you slice it, the facts add up to a troubling conclusion: Google is leveraging the fact that we depend on it so totally, and question it so little, in order to force us into patterns of behavior in a way it wants. And there’s really only one reason any person or company would do that.
People don’t realize that launching a new site is a lot of work. Some think, I’ll just Make Everything SEO friendly and get free traffic. Only if it were that easy. Search Marketing in the beginning can help give you that initial boost if you do it correctly. If your selling a product you need shoppers. If you have good content, you need readers.
Don’t think “If I build it, they will come”, as that statement may be true in some situations, it does not apply to all!
Using the power of Pay Per Click on Google, Yahoo! and MSN will allow you to get your product or service out to the public instantly!
It will also give you time to develop your natural results as well as building up inbound links, tweaking your site and getting a feel for your market!
Search Marketing does not have to be a “Drain the Bank” project either. Start with an affordable budget. Do some research to find inexpensive keywords. Test, test, test your ad copy. Grow your business while growing your Search Marketing Advertising campaigns. If you don’t have the time to deal with Search Marketing, hire a consultant (like myself) or an agency and tell them your initiatives!