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Yahoo! Search Engine

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The Yahoo! Search engine comes in a notable second for the most searches per day (Google is number one). Like Google, the Yahoo! search engine was invented by two Stanford graduates: Jerry Yang and David Filo. The history of the Yahoo! Search engine is interesting for different reasons than Google. At its inception in 1994, Yahoo! (then called ‘Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web’) was simply a directory of websites and not a searchable index. Four months after its creation, the site officially took the name Yahoo! and the popular search engine was born. About 14 months after its creation, by securing venture capital from Sequoia Capital (who also provided capital for Apple, Google, PayPal and YouTube to name only a few), Yahoo! incorporated and raised $33.8 million in its initial public offering. When comparing the history of the Yahoo! Search engine to Google’s history, we see huge growth indicative of a ‘flash and burn’ business model. We now know that this was not the case for either company.

The history of the Yahoo! search engine turned towards the current trends and developed into a web portal, offering its users other features such as games, news, weather and stocks, following in the footsteps of MSN and Lycos. Web portals were developed to keep users on the page as long as possible. By acquiring a multitude of companies, Yahoo! was able to add functionality and services to their portal, thus becoming one of the most popular portals on the internet. Some of these acquisitions included Rocketmail, ClassicGames.com and eGroups (which were renamed Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Games and Yahoo! Groups respectively).

In 2000, Yahoo! signed an agreement with Google, making Google the default engine used by the Yahoo! search engine at yahoo.com. In short – the Yahoo! Search engine actually piggybacked from Google. In 2004 Yahoo! ended its deal with Google and returned to its own search results technology. (Yahoo! had recently acquired Overture Services Inc., and its subsidiaries AltaVista and AlltheWeb.) Some believe that Yahoo!’s search relevance greatly decreased as a result – but Yahoo! was focusing strategically on other ventures.

In 2002, telecommunications giant SBC and Yahoo! launched a partnership dialup internet service. In 2005, Yahoo! and Verizon collaborated to launch an integrated DSL service. Yahoo! Mail’s storage was increased to 1GB to compete with Google’s fast growing Gmail. Yahoo! Also made a deal with Microsoft where both Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger would be interoperable. The Yahoo! search engine was no longer the big product for Yahoo!.

In 2005, Yahoo! received criticism on the international stage for its involvement in helping Chinese authorities arrest a journalist (Shi Tao) by providing specific details of the man’s anonymous Yahoo! Mail account. To further Yahoo!’s unwanted press, they were sued in April 2007 by Wang Xiaoning’s wife and the World Organization for Human Rights in US courts. Wang posted journals with Yahoo! Groups calling for democratic reform in China. After Yahoo!’s help, Chinese authorities arrested Wang for ‘incitement to subvert state power’ and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Although Yahoo!’s image was tarnished by these event, the website still enjoyed over 130 million unique visits in November 2006 and an average of 3.4 billion page views a day for their global network of websites.

Yahoo and SEO

Although no one can deny that Yahoo!’s unprecedented average page views, it is important to understand that users on Yahoo! pages are not necessarily using them for search purposes. Yahoo! Games and Yahoo! Mail get unprecedented hits by people who still have email accounts or play the online games, but do not use the Yahoo! Search engine as a search tool. Google, on the other hand, is not a web portal. When a user goes to Google, it is for searching. When the numbers are simplified, Yahoo! enjoys some of the highest unique visitor statistics on the Internet but encompasses about  12.7 of search engine traffic or 66 million searches per day. When attempting to rank a page for marketing reasons, using Google as your key results indicator is a logical choice.

Following Google’s example, Yahoo! launched ‘Panama’, which is similar to Google’s AdWords campaign. It is hard to know what kind of impact this new venture will have in the PPC Management field considering Yahoo! has already had some advertising controversy (such as paid inclusion into results pages where they are indistinguishable from organic search results and Yahoo!’s blatant partnership with Walnut Ventures and their affiliation with Spyware and Adware advertising). However, if the history of the Yahoo! search engine teaches us anything, it’s that this company will fade away without a fight by expanding their ventures.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Yahoo! in regards to SEO and Marketing is Yahoo! Directories and their acquisition of the social bookmarking site, del.icio.us. Yahoo! Directories, because of their relevant content and link structure, holds a relatively high importance and trust level for Google’s queries. DMOZ is another example of a web site directory with substantial ‘weight’ in regards to trust with Google’s search engine.
Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking service for sharing web bookmarks. The relevancy of Social Bookmarking in SEO and Marketing is growing exponentially due to both the ‘trust’ level of bookmarking and the growing popularity (quantity) of social bookmarking in general.

To conclude, although the Yahoo! Search engine only makes up approx. 12.7% of the search market, they do have tools and services that are useful from a marketing perspective. When using Yahoo!’s services such as their directories, you not only earn ranking in their small but undeniable 12.7% but your site also gains trust in and weight in the bigger search engines – a win-win situation.



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