In search, a lot of what Yahoo has done has been overshadowed by what Google and Bing have done, simply because Google controls such a huge piece of the search pie, and Bing is still a relatively fresh entity. All eyes are still on Bing as it grows. That leaves Yahoo somewhere in the middle, where it technically sits in terms of market share.
How important is Yahoo to your search strategy? Let us know.
Yahoo has done quite a bit over the past six months, and has a lot more going on in the coming ones. Regardless of whether or not Yahoo's deal with Microsoft finally goes through, and Bing takes over the algorithm side of things, Yahoo is still very much focused on search.
"Yahoo has been in search, is in search, and will continue to be in the future," says Yahoo's new senior VP of search products, Shashi Seth. "We'll continue to drive innovation. It's our stake in the ground."
According to the latest data from Experian Hitwise, Yahoo's market share in the U.S. declined by 2 percentage points from December to January as Bing and even Ask grew by 5% and 4% respectively. Regardless of this data, there are still plenty of people using Yahoo, and that means businesses shouldn't ignore it. In fact, businesses should do all they can to understand the audience they are reaching with each individual search engine.
An interesting study from Wunderman, ZAAZ, and Compete suggests that the demographic and psychographic profile of each loyal search engine user is different. Bing users, for example, tend to be mostly from the tip of the adoption curve (innovators and early adopters) where Yahoo and Google's passengers tend to be middle majority, according to the report from these firms.
The point is that it is easy to get wrapped up in specific search engines, but Yahoo is still a key player and it is worth paying attention to all of the things they are doing to improve their own users' experience, because you might find specific ways to reach Yahoo users that might be slightly different than ways you might try to reach Google users (or Bing's users).
What Yahoo Has Done Lately
In September, Yahoo launched a completely new version of Yahoo Search. In addition to being faster, this new version included things like:
- SearchMonkdey structured data, which lends to richer results from an increasing number of sites
- Search Scan and Safe Search, which help protect users from viruses, spyware and spam
- Search Pad, which lets users take notes for research as they search
- Query assistance, which has been extended in the left-hand column to let users browse concepts related to their queries
- Image and video search refiners
Yahoo has expanded its coverage for enhanced results to formats like video, documents, games, products, local businesses, events, discussions, and news. In November, Yahoo extended its Search Assist features from the web search box to the search box on every Yahoo property. They also began including photos, videos, and tweets about news stories in search results.
"We're focused on making it easier to search for local businesses," says Larry Cornett, Vice President, Consumer Products, Yahoo Search. "Starting in December 2009, we display more Yahoo! local business shortcuts when you search for a business, even if you don’t include your location in your query. We also began providing new functionality directly within the local shortcut to refine results by neighborhood or nearby city right on the search results page. This further enhances an already great shortcut that provides more of the information you care about most directly on the search results page; including ratings, reviews, photos, and directions." (emphasis added)
In December, Yahoo started integrating tweets in the form of a shortcut from search results pages (separate from the news tweets) when users search for "buzzy" topics. Finally, Yahoo added more entertainment refiners within its image/video search products.
What Yahoo Will Be Doing
One new innovation that Yahoo unveiled this week is called "Sketch-a-Search". It's a mobile app that lets users pull up a map and user their fingers to search by tracing a line around the area they want to search. An image of it can be seen here.
As far as advertising, Yahoo says it's focused on three key areas: better value, transparency and control, and innovation. The company says it is making pricing adjustments, and will allow advertisers to pay different rates for different traffic sources across Yahoo's network. The company said it knows most people focus most of their campaign son Google, and they've created an import campaign tool and a new desktop tool for Yahoo Search Marketing, which will be available next month. They are putting ads into Search Assist, and they're doing re-targeting of ads based on users' search history.
Do you like the direction Yahoo's headed in? Do you use Yahoo for search? How important is it to your marketing strategy? Comment here.