Yahoo: The Underdog of Search
June 29, 2015
We all love a good underdog story. The geeky girl takes off her glasses and become prom queen. The team that seemingly had no shot comes back to win it all. The inner nerd in all of us can’t get enough of seeing the impossible become possible. These tales aren’t just limited to high schools and playing fields and if you think the search engine arena is exempt, think again.
The story begins the same. Popular kid, Google, has held the market for quite some time taking on the role of trendsetter, determining how we should search as well as how we should be found. While Bing has made some attempts to take down the giant, little Yahoo has seemingly been pushed aside and taken on role of search’s quintessential nerd. For a while, they seemed to embrace their Mom friendly persona but it seems as late, they have realized these lovely ladies might not be around forever and are making moves to stay a player in the game.
First, they followed the classic rule, if you want to be like the cool kids, do as the cool kids do. Early this year, Yahoo switched to having all searches going through a secure sever, just as Google did in September 2013. This protects searches from being recorded by third parties, and made a major buzz last year when “Not Provided” keyword percentages began to climb. While this seemingly could have gone unnoticed for Yahoo, in classic nerd style they failed to make a major change in how “referrer” data is recorded and in turn this caused Yahoo organic traffic to begin showing up as “r.search.yahoo.com”. For users just glancing at traffic data, it would appear as though their Yahoo organic traffic dropped suddenly without reason, making the search engine appear less popular than ever. No one said being the underdog was easy.
While this lack luster attempt at becoming the next Google may have fallen short, Yahoo does not appear to be giving up with the recent announcement of some major partnerships. First there were quiet rumors that Yahoo was vying to become the default browser for Safari. While nothing has been confirmed, this would be a major feat for Yahoo as it would essentially force millions of Apple into using Yahoo until they take the initiative to change it. If forcing people to like you doesn’t work, then perhaps buying them will. Last week it was announced that Yahoo is teaming up with Live Nation to stream one new concert a day for a year starting late this summer. The shows will be featured on Yahoo Screen, a new music-dedicated channel that is aimed to be what MTV used to be. I’ll admit, my interest is peaked.
With a strategy that clearly is targeting a younger, hipper audience, Yahoo isn’t stopping with music. Yahoo Screen will also feature two new comedy series set to air Netflix-marathon-binge-watching style and again I’ll admit, I’m a little excited for both. The first comes from the director of The Office, Bryan Gordon, and follows a Silicon Valley tycoon purchase of a fictional basketball team. The second comes from Freaks and Geeks director Paul Feig (also of Bridesmaids fame) and focuses on a group of misfits trying to fit in an alternate universe. I can’t think of a more perfect fit for Yahoo, can you?
Can Yahoo be the ultimate comeback kid? While it may seem too early to tell, their effort is definitely noticeable and keeping media a buzz with their efforts as of late. If there’s one way to entice America and break a somewhat negative stereotype, it’s allowing them to day dream about seeing Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake up close and personal in their living room.