Yahoo! And its search for purpose

Bing trying to challenge GoogleIt’s the end of an era! With CEO Carol Bartz sacked and a takeover imminent, many are claiming that one of the big internet giants has fallen. But I think these claims are a bit presumptuous. Let’s take a look at Yahoo and where the recent news leaves the brand and the wider search engine market.

At the start of August, Yahoo started offering organic search results directly from Bing as part of a deal struck in 2009. Why have they decided to bow out of the race you may ask? Well if you’re anything like the ninety-something percent of Brits who use Google every day, the answer is probably already pretty clear.

Last year, Yahoo accounted for fewer than 3% of all searches in the UK, which looks pretty measly next to Google’s 90% market share.  Yahoo doesn’t perform this poorly across the globe; in fact in the US, Yahoo has (or had…) 15% of all organic searches. When looking at these figures it makes much more sense. With Yahoo’s users on board, the Bing search engine will account for close to a whopping 30%.

Personally I’m sad to see Yahoo go. It means less choice for us users and, if this were a traditional bricks-and-mortar industry, the competition committee would have been all over the deal.

Bing is a relative newbie in the search engine world and is yards behind the rest of the pack. It will mature though; with more traffic running through it, the greater the experience it will build.

Search engines use high volumes of searches to work on honing their algorithms; the better these become, the faster and more intuitive the search process will be. The backing of Microsoft has clear benefits: Bing is the default search engine on all new PCs so we may soon see a new guy at the top.

What’s next for Yahoo?

In my opinion, Yahoo is still a great content provider and the more original content it offers, the more credible it will become. You only need to look at Yahoo Answers to find an example of a Yahoo product that grabs serious traffic, whatever search engine you’re using.

This increasing specialization is in stark contrast to Google’s diversification – some would say it is also an indicator that you need to strip things back to your core capabilities before you can build out successfully again. We’re seeing a similar pattern of behavior from companies like HP as it scales back its consumer operation to focus on becoming a dedicated enterprise provider.

What you need to do

The Yahoo/Bing move will have varying immediate effects for UK firms but the key thing, as always, is to understand your own situation. Our advice is to check into Bing’s Webmaster tool, get to grips with the new face of your rankings and then make decisions based on that.

Of course, if you’re currently working with us, get in touch and we’ll walk you through the transition and any effects it will have on your business.

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