Can Search Save Yahoo?

    May 26, 2012
    Abby Johnson
    Comments are off for this post.

To say that Yahoo has had its share of problems in the past few years is an understatement. The most recent news of the now former CEO Scott Thompson and his resume scandal has only added to the disorder surrounding Yahoo. The once highly regarded Internet giant has experienced all types of turmoil including numerous management changes, extensive layoffs, and the closing of multiple properties, all of which have raised a lot of questions about the company’s future.

Do you think Yahoo can make a comeback in search? Let us know in the comments.

The company’s “Search Alliance” with Microsoft leaves plenty of questions about the company’s future in search, as well, but there are rumors going around that the deal may not play out as planned. We spoke with Kevin Ryan, the CEO of Motivity Marketing, who says that based on rumors floating around in the industry, the search alliance between Yahoo and Microsoft might not make its projected 10-year tenure.

“There’s a lot of rumors in the business that [it] isn’t going well, and that it’s not going to make the full-decade run,” he tells us. “So, if I’m Yahoo, I’m spending a little bit of money trying to figure out how we can get that search bucket going.”

When the agreement was reached, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan spoke with us about the impact of the deal on each company. “[A] big win for Microsoft, a lot of questions for Yahoo,” he summarized.

“Yahoo effectively threw in the towel with search,” says Ryan of the alliance.

Despite the many reports on the struggling search alliance, David Pann, the General Manager of Search Networks at Microsoft, spoke with us last year and pointed out that the companies had already experienced success, even in its early stages.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Okay, well, you didn’t do this, you didn’t that – it’s a failure,’” Pann explained. “I don’t think of that. I think that, given where we are, and given the complexity of the relationship… we’re actually making very good progress.”

However, if the rumors are true and Yahoo does pull out of its agreement with Microsoft, the company will have to begin thinking about search again. The only other option would be to sell its search business completely.

Kevin Ryan, CEO of Motivity Marketing According to Ryan, there are several instances that could be credited as catalysts for Yahoo’s downward sprial, but he believes its Panama search ad platform played a large role in beginning the downfall. Panama was Yahoo’s attempt to monetize search, as Google did, but instead, Ryan says it was an “abject failure” for Yahoo.

Ryan compares Yahoo’s current situation to what happened with Ask. The former search engine pulled out of the search industry in 2010 and has now transformed itself into a questions and answers service with an emphasis on mobile.

There are some who would likely consider Yahoo to be a former search engine as well. Yahoo is currently in the process of reinventing itself as a media company, but the company’s short-term leaders have had difficulty in making this transition. Ryan, however, doesn’t believe this particular attempt is the best option for Yahoo.

“Stop trying to reverse engineer HuffPo,” said Ryan, “and create something new.”

But, Yahoo’s performance as a media company has been nothing to shake a stick at, and for many, Yahoo’s homepage works very well as a portal to the Web. Just take a look at Yahoo’s realtime homepage view counter at any given day. So far today (at 8:30AM Pacific), the page has already seen over 73 million views .

Yahoo Homepage views

Still, Ryan tells us that Yahoo should reinvest in its core business, in which search plays a very big role. With a renewed focus in this area, he believes Yahoo could better serve consumers and also advertisers, which could help it get back on the right track.

Ryan told us there could be opportunities for Yahoo in terms of social development. Both Google and Bing have yet to completely succeed in social, which leaves an open door for Yahoo. He believes that a renewed focus on search combined with the opportunities in social could help to begin to turn Yahoo around. In addition, Ryan would like to see Yahoo make drastic changes internally in order to streamline its processes and improve its culture.

“I hope that the change that Yahoo makes will be very internal,” he said. “I hope that the culture internally will become much more positive, but we’ll see.”

At this point, Ross Levinsohn is Yahoo’s interim CEO. Although some people believe he will become the permanent CEO, Yahoo has not indicated any official word for who its next leader will be.

It’s inevitable that changes will happen at Yahoo in the coming months, but what they will be and whether or not they will be effective in saving the company are both still in question. On the positive side, Yahoo was able to finally reach an agreement with Alibaba Group. The $7 billion deal will require Yahoo to sell back half its stake in the Chinese company, but it brings resolution to one of its many problems.

Do you think search should play a significant role in Yahoo’s future as a company? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-richardson Chris Richardson

    Never should’ve left Google. With their remaining power as a home page combined with a Google-powered search, combined with some sort of ad click revenue sharing option, Yahoo would be just fine…

  • Gammon

    I was not a fan of the Bing merger I believe Yahoo should stop relying on Bing or Google and create their own independent search.

  • http://www.skintreat.net Ismail

    I think Yahoo will increase it search market share, since Google made changes and introduced Panda and Penguin.
    Many companies have lost there ranking in Google, looks like on the .org and .gov sites show up higher in ranking.
    Hope Yahoo stays in the search business, we need a major competitor against Google.
    We do not want a monopoly with Google dominating the search industry on the Internet.

  • http://www.toprockinternet.com Adam

    I think that if yahoo can focus on local search results and really cater to small and medium sized businesses, they can take some market share away from google. This penguin update has been absolutely terrible for small businesses across the country and is favoring very large companies.

    Are the quality results still there in google SERPS? I am not really sure as I have a hard time being unbiased. However, it is clear that they have sold out to large corporations with this latest algo.

    • http://www.nichewebsitehelp.com denzil

      Adam, I am surprise someone in your line of work can thing like that about the piquing up date. Google have to refresh their search engine every now and then. If not the big companies and the black hat crowd will have their way. The little guys like me and maybe you will not have a chance of gaining any real traffic. Think about it!

  • http://www.topjogo.com.br Márcio


  • http://www.campfirecontent.com/ Charlie

    Well, I’m no expert on these matters, but I AM a prolific user of the Internet with a fair amount of savvy re: which search engines I prefer…and why. Not that I’ve used every one of them out there, but I’ve used the ‘biggies’. Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and some of the lesser known as well…DuckDuckGo, DeeperWeb, Dogpile, Excite, and others.

    We know that most of the “smaller” search engines rely on Google and other of the larger ones for much of their data, so I think it’s fair to say Google, Bing, Yahoo! (in that order) are still in power. Of course, even Bing and Yahoo! rely on Google (but Google doesn’t rely on anyone, right? — I’m asking here…do they?).

    My biggest complaint about Yahoo! is their way-too-invasive advertising. I know they claim those are necessary in order to keep Yahoo! “free” for users, but Google is “free”, too; and they don’t plaster those annoying ads the way Yahoo! does.

    I have a feeling that some of the advertisers are going to have to change their “in your face”, over-bearing, glitzy, flashy, and otherwise downright distracting and annoying scripts, y’know? I think Yahoo! needs to pay attention to that. That is, in my (humble) opinion. I’m just sayin’…

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/rich-ord Rich Ord

      In answer to your question Charlie, Yahoo is in a ten year deal with Bing that powers their search engine. Both Bing and Google maintain their own separate search engines.

      Regarding Yahoo advertising, their search results typically have less ads than Google. You are probably referring to their front page, which is more of a portal than a pure search box.

  • william

    I can pin point Yahoo’s exact falling point

    anyone remember Goto.cm which then became Overture.com which was bought out by Yahoo.com

    well it worked awesome and was a major source of revenue – then Yahoo programmers decided to change it and it took 1 hour which use to take 1 minute to paice bids and manage account – so everyone including me just let their accounts go stale

    Now…. I placed several calls at that time and was told “oh .. you just need to spend time getting use to it”.

    I told them flat out it was a mistake and the next Quarter Wall Street reported Yahoo down over 25% in search ads

    Yahoo has a history of breaking things that work
    with over 40+ Yahoo Stores dev to date I have a very strong understanding of Yahoo since 1999

    Yahoo Small Business solutions works great but with Google making Amazon 1-3 for all products in the Penguin update those small business will be closing up.

    Yahoo should take back their own rankings and push the small business over Amazon – sites were companies really specialize.

    HEY ..Yahoo …. here is your answer

    remember Coke Classic

    Go back to the original Yahoo and go back to your PPC on the Overture platform

    imagine “Yahoo Classic”

    go to archive.org
    check out Yahoo homepage December of 2005


    if Yahoo went back to the Overture PPC platform Id be all over it.

    at 1 time Yahoo had 1 out of 8 online ecom stores thru their Small Business Solutions – had the Overture platform for PPC – but more importantly had largest collection of small business owners they could have crowd-sourced.

    enough said

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/rich-ord Rich Ord

      “imagine “Yahoo Classic”” … Great comment William!

  • http://www.methadonehelp.net AMG

    The end of Google is unlikely, but Bing/yahoo ever does gain ground on Google it would be because Google is running themselves into the ground by getting too far away from the fundamental purpose of a search engine to provide relevant results to visitors, something that Bing/Yahoo is starting to do a better job of. Seriously. Search for something on Google then search for the same thing on Bing/Yahoo and you tell me which one got closer to your answer? BING & YAHOO FTW!

  • http://www.yourdatacenter.com Al Thiel

    The early days of Yahoo! search were perpetuated by the design work of a company based in Rochester New York which one of my nephews operated. That company will remain nameless as that is not the point of this article. They refined the search engine that was used to query the Internet. Search actually worked and got results!

    Yahoo! became a giant in search, adding on many SEO-type features that made website hosting companies and web designers cling to the platform. It worked! Yahoo! became! GIANT!

    What was good for Yahoo! became good for the masses, and they grew. Once that path was blurred, Yahoo! nearly went into oblivion in the eyes of advertisers, and that lost them the golden egg. They can get it back again by integrating search into other things besides a web browser. There are so many things they can get into now the possibilities are endless. Now if they actually do that while staying focused, they will not only succeed, they could surpass the crowd and once again wear the crown.

    Advertisers are not happy with their returns on investment online, and have not been for a very long time. Growing numbers (crowds) are headed towards web-based affiliate marketing firms like Commission Junction, Digital River, ClickBank and even to Amazon which could destroy more than a few search engines. Just a little work to make advertisers happy again, giving more back to the end-user without stealing their privacy and the key to success could be had.

    As Winnie The Pooh said over and over again in his thinking corner.. “Think! Think! Think!” You can do it Yahoo! The keys are before your eyes.. read them!

  • http://www.marketsharewebdesign.com Kathy

    I would love to see Yahoo come back into its own. I agree that Google needs competition and that if Google continues on the route they are headed that their competitors just might succeed!

  • http://www.atsteels.com Steel

    This is very bad – Google has a monopoly
    Unfortunately, Yahoo will not be as popular as google.
    It is not good for the internet :(

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com/blog/ David Burdon

    I’m sure if Yahoo got some stable management in pace it would realise that search – and mobile search in particular – is where the big numbers reside. It had a great business a few years back and allowed poor quality search results and poor quality partners destroy the strength of its Overture paid search platform.

  • http://wp-admin.info John Mauldin

    Sadly, Yahoo has been a follower for a looong time. They need innovation and forward thinking to move away from the crowd. Don’t think that is going to happen. They could actually poll the audience and find out what people are looking for instead of assuming (called ego and arrogance in another language).

  • http://evrn.net/ Howard Crane

    What fucks up good companies (offline and online) is their lack of touch with the mind of the common man. They look at each other for help, but those relationships are about as reliable as romantic relationships… they should be asking the average Joe how to not drown in mediocrity.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    If Yahoo hadn’t strayed from the tried & true “KISS” (keep it simple, stupid) it would rule the search engine world.

    • BC

      Like Craigslist. :) Isn’t CL still stuck in the early 90’s look? People love it.

      • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

        Never use or goto CL. Did once a few years ago (not impressed … too many creepy people hang in that ally).
        Had Yahoo stayed “search” and merged with search enhancers like Profusion, Alta Vista translation, etc. It would own the search engine area … it was the original … started in 1994.

  • http://www.mightygleissradio.com reachglenn

    Yahoo! need stealth like lions, tigers, Jaguar so when these sleeping giants utilize their long term investment technologies & run on all pistons, their already among our midst

    Y! search yes, but new tactics


  • Albu Dany

    After all ”exotic” updates, google looks like they promote just YouTube videos and other partner pages….
    I will start using Yahoo more in the future…
    I hope that more and more people will use Yahoo or other search engines, Leave Google to promote their own pages…

  • http://www.rajasthantourindia.in rashid

    thanks for post about yahoo.
    nice article.

    Golden Triangle Tour.

  • Tim

    If they only knew that eBay sellers are screaming in pain for a new auction site without Draconian policies and less fees… These people who work at Yahoo need to interact with the regular user, the customers. If they only knew that in order to beat Google you need to interact with the webmaster and have a presence at Webmaster world… They have a fair algo. but they just don’t crawl anymore.

  • John Haynes

    I believe Yahoo can make it if they choose to – they will need to be willing to change their own perceptions first. Then, if they change their own perceptions properly, they can begin to change the perceptions of others (the MEDIA!)
    That seems to be the unfortunate truth in my OPINION. If you want things to change, change yourself first. Then, once you can see things from the proper perspective, others will follow. But perhaps the most important thing is you must decide how you will change – to or for what purpose, what direction, why and the +/- of the change. Change takes proper planning and direction – perhaps the hardest thing to master of all!

  • Anthony Mattheus

    I own Yahoo and I think they

    should have sold out to Microsoft a few years back all yahoo does now is
    fill us with empty promises…

  • http://www.tipsinablog.com Daniel

    For me personally, I can not see Yahoo/ Bing ever overtaking Google in the bigger scheme of things…

    Like others have mentioned, if Yahoo concentrates on certain areas and works on specializing in it, then they will take back a fair amount of lost ground….

    The reality is when people think of ” Search ” they think of Google, not bing or Yahoo….and this is why Google is the leader in Search engines whether we are happy with this, or not…

    We say ” I will go and Google it”! Not ” I will go and Bing it”! or ” Go and Yahoo it”!

    Google is on most peoples lips, and in just about every bodies mind, when they think of the net, or jump on their PC, Laptop, tablet, etc etc….

  • http://albertoativista.blogspot.com/ Alberto Ativista

    Uma literatura extremamente original.

  • http://albertoativista.blogspot.com/ Alberto Ativista


  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAWS2Gxb7yo ragadoran

    yahoo will survive in this economy maybe! oy vey! this video explains it all http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAWS2Gxb7yo

  • Fred Krapsicher

    Yahoo should contract with http://www.batchsearch.com for the search provision. -Covers all the searching that there is in existence.

  • http://www.jepluscomputer.com James

    Being a coder, I regularly use Google than Yahoo because its result is more relevant than Yahoo. However when it comes to local search, I found Yahoo to be more helpful. If yahoo can maintain the relevancy of local search, I think it can stay in the search business.