The Yahoo Directory Is Officially Dead

Chris CrumSearch

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Back in September, Yahoo announced that it would shut down the Yahoo Directory, its oldest service, and the one that put the company on the map to begin with. In fact, the announcement for such a major product closure was quiet at best, as it came in the middle of a blog post announcing a handful of product shut downs.

Are you happy to see the Yahoo Directory go? Share your thoughts in the comments.

In the post, Yahoo said, “Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly.”

While it was supposed to be retired on the last day of the year, a lot of people (myself included) were having trouble accessing it just after the announcement. On Saturday, Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land reported that it had closed five days early, noting that it was redirecting to Yahoo Small Business, where it still displays a directory. Just not THE directory.

The early demise of the Yahoo Directory probably isn't going to have a huge impact on many people, but what that demise represents for the Internet is more significant. It represents the true end of an era (even if that era has unofficially been dead for years).

Back when the closure was announced, Sullivan noted that the Yahoo Directory was the “gateway” to the web back in the old days. This is a title often given to Google these days, and one that the search giant has been trying to distance itself from in light of the big antitrust investigation it's been facing in Europe.

Eric Schmidt said earlier this year that Google is not the “gateway to the Internet as the publishers suggest,” and that “to get news, you’ll probably go direct to your favorite news site. It’s why newspapers like Bild, Le Monde and the Financial Times get most of their online traffic directly (less than 15% comes from Google). Or you might follow what other people are reading on Twitter. To book a flight or buy a camera for your next holiday, you’re as likely go to a site like Expedia or Amazon as you are Google. If you’re after reviews for restaurants or local services, chances are you’ll check out Yelp or TripAdvisor. And if you are on a mobile phone — which most people increasingly are — you’ll go straight to a dedicated app to check the sports scores, share your photos or look for recommendations.”

Google could possibly point to the demise of the Yahoo Directory, once looked upon as the gateway to the Internet, in its own defense. Clearly, these so-called “gateways” can become obsolete, and competition can displace a previously dominant player.

The Yahoo Directory used to offer free, standard listings and a paid submission process before moving to a model of $299 for a non-refundable “review fee”. It would cost sites the same amount each year if they were to be listed. Google is actually a significant part of why paid directories have declined, so that might work against that aforementioned Google defense. Of course, Yahoo also recently killed its Contributor Network thanks to Google’s Panda update.

Yahoo made the jump from human-edited directory listings to a crawler-based index in 2002, though it’s kept the directory around until now. In 2010, the company said it had no plans to close the directory, but a lot has happened since then, and a former Googler is running the show these days.

Directories have long been a major part of the Internet, even if that’s been less the case in more recent years. The closure of the most notable directory in the history of the modern web is indicative of a major shift.

Just before the holidays, Yahoo announced another round of shut-downs. This mostly consisted of international media properties, which are being restructured to utilize Yahoo's flagship content.

Will you miss the Yahoo Directory? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.