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.
Yahoo! announced Monday morning that they have agreed to pay $1.1 billion (cash!) for Tumblr, a six-year-old online blogging service.
Since she joined Yahoo! last July, CEO Marissa Mayer has acquired several companies that appeal to younger audiences, including Summly, Astrid and Jybe. I think this acquisition definitely comes as another one of Yahoo’s attempts to make itself more relevant among young people, and in order to do that, you need to have some sort of blogging platform. In addition to making the announcement of the acquisition, Yahoo promised not to “screw up” the relationship.
Tumblr is an online blogging site that lets users share just about anything-text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from a browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever they happen to be. The site has over 108.8 million blogs and over 50.9 billion posts.
For those who are worried that Yahoo would alter Tumblr’s edgy image, Yahoo said that Tumbr will operate independently as a separate business.
“David Karp will remain CEO. The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators,” the statement said.
David Karp, Tumblr’s 26 year old CEO, also seems happy about the acquisition, blogging “Before touching on how awesome this is, let me try to allay any concerns: We’re not turning purple. Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing,”
What do you think of Yahoo’s latest acquisition? Let us know in a comment.
The latest video to be released by Google’s Matt Cutts gives webmasters a heads up as to what they can expect to see in the near future in terms of SEO for the search engine. As usual, he reminds viewers to take the information with a grain of salt because things are always subject to change (timing, when they launch, etc.), but he claims that this is what Google is up to.
Here are some of the upcoming changes that Matt says have either been approved or look promising:
Penguin 4/Penguin 2.0
I don’t think it’s any secret that Google is relatively close to deploying the next generation of Penguin, which Google has internally been referring to as Penguin 2.0. Matt warns that the next generation of Penguin will go deeper and have a much bigger impact than the original. The goal of the update will be to target more black hat web spam.
In the near future Google will be looking more at advertorials (also known as native advertising), which violate quality guidelines. As Matt states in the video, if someone pays for an ad, those ads should not flow PageRank. Google plans on being stronger on enforcement of advertorials that violate their quality guidelines.
Matt did say there is nothing wrong with advertorials, as long as they’re not being abused for PageRank and linking reasons. If you are going to use them, just make it clear that it is paid and not organic.
Payday loans & porn
This summer Google plans on looking more at queries that tend to be spammy, such as “payday loans” and some porn-related queries. Matt didn’t really go into what exactly Google plans to do about it, but he hinted that something will be happening.
Denying value to link spammers
Matt hints that Google is working to make link buying less effective. Again, he doesn’t go much into details but my guess is that Google will probably go after more link networks.
Cracking down on hacked sites
Matt says that Google plans on cracking down on hacked sites in a few different ways. By detecting them better, they hope to roll out a new generation of hacked site detection in next few months. Google also plans on working to communicate better to webmasters to clear up the confusion between hacked sites and sites that serve up malware. Matt explains how it would be nice to have a one-stop shop where once someone realizes they’ve been hacked, they can go to webmaster tools to get the information they need to clean up the hacked site.
Google is getting better at detecting when someone is an authority in a particular space (travel, medical, whatever). If you are an authority, you may notice a ranking boost in the next few months, as Google hopes that related queries will return your site above less authoritative web sites.
Matt Cutts said that many of the sites impacted by the Google Panda update are borderline cases. Relief may be on the way for some of these sites, as Google is looking to find additional signals that suggest that a site is in fact high quality.
We should expect to see less clusters of the same domain coming up on the first page of Google’s SERP. The search engine is working to make it so that once you see a cluster of results from the same site, you are less likely to see more results from site as you go on.
Better webmaster communication
Google is working to improve their communication with webmasters. This means providing more detailed information and more example URL so webmasters can better diagnose problems on their site.
Matt starts off the video with a reminder that Google has been preaching for a long time- make a great site that users will love, bookmark and tell their friends about. Moral of the story- work hard to make users happy. He stresses that if you are focused on high quality content, you don’t have much to worry about. But if you’re dabbling in the black hat arts, you might have a more eventful summe.