Fast Five in Search – Week 48, 2014

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So this week I’ve been reviewing our Search Industry Event Timeline which forms part of our introductory SEO course at Search Engine College. I was struck by the sheer number of acquisitions made by search giant Yahoo over the past 20 years and how controversial some of those purchases have been for them.

So this week I give you: the Five Most Controversial Purchases Made by Yahoo.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) January 1999: Yahoo Acquired Geocities for $4.58 billion

In the 1990’s, before the rise of Content Management Systems and online web page builder services such as Google Sites and WordPress, there was Geocities. Everyone could have a web page at Geocities and populate it with as many animated gifs and flashing headlines as they liked. Yahoo saw the potential for eyeballs that Geocities presented and purchased the service for a whopping US$4.58 billion in stock in January, 1999, then proceeded to completely ignore it. The site finally died from neglect in 2009.

2) July 2003: Yahoo Purchased Overture for $1.63 billion

This purchase was a direct response to the growing success of Google’s AdWords paid advertising program. Originally known as GoTo.com, Overture was the first paid search advertising program and had no serious rivals until Google launched AdWords in 2000. Yahoo’s purchase included search engines AltaVista and AllTheWeb, which Overture had acquired just a few months earlier. Yahoo later rebranded Overture as Yahoo Search Marketing and ran it haphazardly until it became clear it was no rival for AdWords. In 2010, Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft morphed the program into Microsoft adCenter and the combined service eventually became known as Bing Ads.

3) March 2005: Yahoo Bought Flickr for Between $22 and $25 million

There was enormous outcry when Yahoo! acquired photo sharing service Flickr and its creator Ludicorp. The acquisition reportedly cost somewhere between $22 and $25 million and was announced almost casually on the Flickr blog. Most people agree that Yahoo’s purchase ruined Flickr forever.

4) December 2005: Yahoo Acquired del.icio.us for an Estimated $20 million

Online bookmarking service del.icio.us was purchased by Yahoo late 2005 for an estimated $20 million. The once respected social sharing site was left to flounder for 6 years, before being sold off to the founders of YouTube in April 2011.

and finally…

5) May 2013: Yahoo Purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion

Yahoo’s purchase of blogging and publishing platform Tumblr in mid 2013 was met with shrieks of horror from the blogging community, who had witnessed the slow death of other Internet services purchased by the search giant. Announced directly on her own cutesy Tumblr, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer promised “not to screw it up”. Whether that happens remains to be seen. The most positive feedback I can find since the purchase is a comment from Tumblr founder David Karp who admits that Yahoo has allowed Tumblr to maintain independence so far. Although that may change soon because apparently Yahoo is trying to turn Tumblr into a competitor for YouTube.

I wonder what Yahoo will buy next?

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Firefox Swaps Google for Yahoo as Default Search Engine

Yahoo_Logo_PurpleIn an announcement today, Mozilla revealed that Yahoo has replaced Google as the default search engine for their browser Firefox.

The announcement took many of us in the search industry by surprise, especially as Google has been the default Firefox search engine since 2004.

The deal comes as part of a five year strategic partnership between Mozilla and Yahoo!, a clear tactical alliance given that Yahoo’s major competitors both own browsers that are stealing market share from Mozilla’s Firefox. Google’s Chrome has now ousted Firefox as the main competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, leaving Firefox with less than 20 percent of the desktop browser market. And don’t even mention mobile device browsing.

According to Mozilla, their agreement with Google came up for renewal this year. With Chrome biting at their heels, they naturally took the opportunity to explore new options.

The partnership is a huge tactical victory for Yahoo and has clearly been in the pipeline for some months, evidenced by the gushing blog post from Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer:

“This is the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years and we’re so proud that Mozilla has chosen us as their long-term partner in search. This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and gives us an opportunity to work even more closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate in search, communications, and digital content. I’m also excited about the long-term framework we developed with Mozilla for future product integrations and expansion into international markets…

 

Our teams worked closely with Mozilla to build a clean, modern, and immersive search experience that will launch first to Firefox’s U.S. users in December and then to all Yahoo users in early 2015.”

It’s important to note that Yahoo will not be the default search engine in all countries, just the United States at this stage. In fact, Mozilla made it clear in today’s announcement that Firefox will no longer be promoting a single global default search provider, but are adopting a more local and flexible approach, with new and expanded search partnerships by country.

Firefox will come with 61 search providers pre-installed across 88 different language versions. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia will continue to be built-in as alternate search options to Yahoo for US-based searchers.

The changes will roll out to US-based Firefox users in December and then to all Firefox users in early 2015.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 40, 2014

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Lots of very interesting tech and search news this week. A couple of game changers for those of us using search channels to market products and services.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Google AdWords Offers Ad Creatives at Scale for PPC by Jessica Lee at Search Engine Watch. This month, Google launched the ability for AdWords advertisers to create ads using custom parameters that you want inserted into your ads. Using a spreadsheet you pre-fill, the feature allows AdWords to retrieve product information that is most relevant to what each customer is searching for and dynamically insert it into your ad text.

2) New Panda Update Rolling Out, Google Takes Another Stand Against Thin Content by Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal. Earlier this week, an analyst at Google UK let slip that a new Panda update was in the process of being rolled out to the Google algorithm. Matt has the scoop on what you can expect from this update.

3) The Yahoo Directory – Once the Internet’s Most Important Search Engine – Is to Close by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. This news came as a bit of a shock. As someone whose job (for years) consisted of submitting client sites to the Yahoo Directory, it was an *end of an era* moment to hear the Directory would be closing down. I’m with Danny on this one – Yahoo has cruelly glossed over the closure of the Directory that started the entire company AKA “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”. So long Yahoo Directory.

4) Want to Improve Your Blog’s Conversion Rates? 11 Tests to Try by Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot. In this post, Pamela shares some logical testing formulas for improving your blog’s conversion rate. Suggested items for testing include Click Through Rate, content balance, calls to action and publishing rate.

and finally…

5) 14 Conversion Rate Optimization Tools Every Expert Needs by Steven Macdonald of Search Engine Journal. This one does exactly what it says on the label. Steven has provided a handy list of tools for testing your conversion rate, conveniently categorized by topics such as Analytics, Research and Testing. Be sure to bookmark this one.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 30, 2014

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The news is all about search engines this week. So much is happening in the industry right now, I can barely keep up with it all.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Bing Now Accepting Right to Be Forgotten Requests in Europe by Jennifer Cowan. The landmark ruling in May against Google by the European Union Court of Justice has now influenced Bing. The search company has released a request form for Europeans wishing to take advantage of the recent “right to be forgotten” edict issued by Europe’s top court.

2) Yahoo Search Share Falls Below 10 Percent for “All-Time Low” by Greg Sterling. According to comScore’s U.S. search market share data for June, Yahoo’s search market share has now fallen below 10 percent for the first time ever, with analysts putting the figure at 9.8 percent. In this article, Greg Sterling demonstrates how Bing has grown almost entirely at Yahoo’s expense.

3) Google Analytics Gets Its Own Dedicated iPhone App by Darrell Etherington. Google has finally released an iPhone app for Analytics and it’s pretty damn good. It provides the same data you see when viewing the web dashboard on a mobile device, including visits, sources, page views and user behavior insights. Real Time reports are also included, which allow you to view visitor activity in real time.

4) Google Penalty Hits eBay’s Bottom Line, May Cost Up to $200 Million in Revenue by Danny Sullivan. The true impact of Google’s search penalty against eBay this year has finally been revealed. This article by Danny Sullivan shows that the penalty had a devastating financial impact on the Auction site, to the tune of $200 million.

and finally…

5) Edward Snowden Calls on Hackers to Help Whistleblowers Leak More Secrets by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai. My curve ball this week is the remarkable appeal from Edward Snowden to attendees of the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference for hackers and technologists to help would-be whistleblowers spill more government secrets.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Yahoo! Tops Google for Web Traffic

Yahoo beats GoogleWow. I’d never thought I’d get to type this in 2013: Yahoo! has ousted Google to become the number 1 source of US web traffic.

The comScore Top 50 US Web Properties report for July 2013 reveals that Yahoo! owned sites attracted more unique visitors than any other networks, including Google. The numbers are pretty close – Yahoo! traffic only beat Google traffic by less than 300,000 visits, but this win is a significant one for Yahoo!, given they haven’t been at the number #1 spot since 2008, according to Greg Sterling.

You might think these numbers were influenced by Yahoo!’s recent purchase of Tumblr, however Tumblr is ranked separately in the report, way down at position #28. Which makes me think that the hard work put in by Marissa Mayer and her new management team over the past 12 months is finally starting to gain traction.

It must be a sweet victory for ex-Google executive Mayer, who took over the top job when Yahoo! was in crisis – struggling from years of poor leadership and financial mismanagement. Despite an overall revenue dip of 7 percent compared with this time last year, Yahoo!’s latest financial figures reveal solid income growth for the past quarter – up 150 percent on the previous year.

The upshot of this for webmasters is: you simply CANNOT continue to put all your eggs in the Google basket. I say this until I’m blue in the face: Google is NOT the Internet. Both Yahoo! and Bing are major players in the search industry with the potential to provide as much – or in Yahoo!’s case, more – traffic than Google.

If traffic from Google dominates your site stats, take action now:

  • Optimize your sites with ALL the search engines in mind. Learn what content / tag structure ranks well on Yahoo! and Bing. Optimize your pages accordingly.
  • Study your analytics and learn what keywords convert better on Yahoo! and Bing. Better optimize your content for those keywords.
  • Observe how much traffic you get from Yahoo! and Yahoo! partner sites. Compare conversion rates for this traffic with the traffic you get from Google and other sources.
  • If you haven’t already established a Bing Ads account, create one and start experimenting with paid advertising on the Bing and Yahoo! networks.
  • Verify your web site/s via Bing Webmaster Tools and start observing your site performance via that account.
  • To encourage indexing, upload your XML sitemap to Bing and Yahoo! via Webmaster Tools and keep it up to date.
  • Monitor your performance in all search engines to reduce your reliance on Google traffic.

Taking action now will mean that you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors and more importantly, if your Google rankings suddenly plummet – *cough* Panda, Penguin *cough* – you’ll have traffic from other sources to catch your fall.

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