October 10, 2013
I signed up for alerts via the Yahoo.com service. My topic has been “enterprise search.” In the last month or so, I have noticed that the Yahoo alerts are cheerleading for an outfit called TopSEOs.com. Here’s a snap of the alert I received today:
The top hit is not about enterprise search in my traditional context. The “enterprise search” refers to TopSEOs.com’s ability to push content to the top of a results list. On one hand, manipulations that give a company focused on spoofing results pride of place in an alert is evidence that Yahoo and other systems cannot detect methods of manipulation. On the other hand, the ability a marketing manager struggling to “prove” that his/her efforts are of value to a company will want to hire these manipulators as quickly as possible.
What does this type of “alert” manipulation suggest to me?
First, the notion of relevance is completely subverted from objective results germane to a query. That’s too bad for those who don’t know the difference between a relevant result and an off-point result.
Second, the endless discussions about whether the results lists bias one site versus another or boost one concept in relation to another are irrelevant. The systems seems to be more under the control of the spoofers than the folks responsible for the search system. I hope self-driving automobiles work better.
Third, the hype about systems understanding context, semantics, and personalization seems to be either unworkable or too expensive to implement. Enterprise search does not connote SEO or search engine optimization to me. Why am I seeing these results?
Answer: One more example of search becoming less and less reliable and useful. You can set up a Yahoo Alert and judge the utility of the service for yourself at http://alerts.yahoo.com/.
Stephen E Arnold, October 10, 2013
September 5, 2013
Yahooooo. I read two stories about the grandma of Web sites. The first was “Introducing Our New Logo!.” I like the exclamation point. The logo is okay, but it seems to be cosmetic. When I was in Portugal in August, Yahoo would not render 70 percent of the time. Why? I am no rocket scientist, so I suppose I could blame it on the hapless Portuguese connectivity providers. But Gmail worked about 90 percent of the time, so maybe the problem is Yahoo’s. Will a new logo address the time outs? One hopes.
Then I read “Pressure Mounts on Yahoo’s De Castro.” No exclamation point after Yahoo, however. The main point of the write up in my opinion was:
Sources close to Yahoo say that De Castro is feeling increasing pressure to deliver better ad results, as the blustery exec has found himself on the outs with CEO Marissa Mayer. There even has been talk that De Castro could be gone by the end of the year, according to numerous sources. The big knock against De Castro is, despite Mayer’s string of mobile acquisitions, lots of positive press and the massive Tumblr deal, the company’s ad business has languished in a marketplace that is enjoying robust growth. Particularly alarming is that Yahoo’s display business is getting hit on both the branding front and programmatic, which would theoretically be a De Castro strength, given his Google background.
My thought is that a new logo and creating discomfort for senior managers adds a different octave to the Yahoo yodel. Do I hear a screech? No, no. The sound is what I hear when one of the goslings tries to:
- Figure out which page will display when accessing Yahoo.com
- Looking at search results which have modest relevance to the query
- Scanning a shopping search result.
I hope that the new logo and excellent management will make the Yahoo yodel more melodious for the fellow in Big Bear, California.
Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2013
Sponsored by Xenky. Oh, wait. I am Xenky.
May 22, 2013
When Marissa Mayer took charge of Yahoo, she flipped the failing company upside down with strategic changes and she is about to make another one, says CNet in the article, “Yahoo Reportedly Looking To Dump Microsoft Search Pact.” Mayer has been unhappy with Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft and has been searching for a way to end the arrangement.
Both companies made the deal in good faith:
“The two companies entered into a 10-year search partnership in 2010 in which Microsoft would power Yahoo search and Yahoo would become the sales force for Microsoft’s premium properties. However, the relationship hasn’t yielded the revenue-per-search guaranteed by the partnership, prompting Microsoft to extend the RPS guarantee for another year, Yahoo disclosed in a regulatory filing Tuesday.”
Microsoft failed to hit the RPS targets and Microsoft keeps seeking extensions in hopes to generate some profits. Mayer wants to grow Yahoo, she does not want to remain stagnant which is what the deal is bringing. Yahoo still considers Microsoft an important partner, but back in 2008 Google courted Yahoo with an ad-search deal and they may come back. Yahoo will probably find a way out of the deal and if the purpose is to make money, which Google is good at, Yahoo just might join the Google family. Is it time to drink the Kool-Aid?
Whitney Grace, May 22, 2013
February 13, 2013
Elvira Madigan was a 19th century tightrope walker, immortalized in a film I saw when in graduate school. Is Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s the 21st equivalent. Instead of doing a freestyle slacklining, the chief Yahooligan may be attempting to work with both Facebook and Google.
To get the basic idea of the new Yahoo tactics, navigate to “Yahoo CEO Says Microsoft Search Deal Underperforms.” With Yandex gaining momentum and the Google getting its mojo back, Yahoo should be concerned about the Bing search deal. The Thomson Reuters’ report included this useful sequence:
“We need to see monetization working better because we know that it can and we’ve seen other competitors in the space illustrate how well it can work,” Mayer said of the search deal with Microsoft. Yahoo and Microsoft entered into a 10-year search partnership in 2010, hoping their combined efforts could mount a more competitive challenge to Google Inc, the world’s No.1 search engine. But the partnership has not lived up to expectations. Google remains the dominant search engine, with a 66.7 percent share of the U.S. market in December, almost unchanged from its 66.6 percent share two years earlier, according to online analytics firm comScore.
Underperform, therefore, seems to be money, not precision, recall, or whizzy Bing features.
I also noted the Bloomberg story “Yahoo CEO Mayer to Cement Facebook Ties While Pushing Mobile.” The story said:
Enhancing social features is crucial to Yahoo’s success, Mayer said, as she reinforced her preference to partner with companies like Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook rather than build expensive new products. “One of the things that people really want to do is share their interests with their friends,” she said. “We need to have sharing built as a fundamental component.”
Makes sense. Most of what Ms. Mayer does makes sense, including the decision to bail out of the “controlled chaos” of her former employer.
My view is that balancing can be tricky when some of the folks holding the tightrope may let go.
Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2013
February 11, 2013
Before Google came into the spotlight, Yahoo used to have a series of commercials where its subjects were put in hilarious situations they wanted to get out of. By using Yahoo search, they were able to find a solution. At the end of every commercial a yodeler yodeled “Ya-ho-oo!” Everybody was “yahooing” and everyone thought Yahoo was number one. They were wrong. Computer World reports that Yahoo wants to snatch the crown, “Yahoo To Focus On Search—And Google.”
Marissa Mayer the Yahoo CEO plans on taking on Google in Internet search. She became the CEO after a successful career at Google, but Yahoo pulled her in to save its floundering tail. Mayer more than anyone else, knows what it means to take on the search giant. Yahoo needs to do something very new and very bold to have the smallest glimmer of hope in competing. Mayer will focus on building technology to improve search results and to extend the reach to desktop/mobile device users.
“’There’s a lot more potential here,’ Mayer said. ‘Overall, search is a key area of investment for us. All the innovations in search are going to happen at the user interface level going forward. We need to invest in those features, both for desktop and mobile [devices]. I think both ultimately will be key plays for us.’”
The new strategy does not call for the end of the Yahoo/Microsoft partnership, Mayer instead hopes Bing will help Yahoo. In 2010, Yahoo ditched its own search engine for Bing. In order to even make a dent in the market, Yahoo needs to grasp onto something that Google misses. Yahoo stinks and needs help. A former Googler is pulled into help. Talk about knowing thy enemy.
Whitney Grace, February 11, 2013
January 23, 2013
Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer has a big hill to climb. Just as she is working to woo investors, recent statistics present some troublesome numbers, we learn from “Mayer’s 10X Challenge: Yahoo’s Homepage, Mail, and Search Traffic Show Significant Year-Over-Year Declines” at All Things D. Yes, that search thing is one of the issues; email and the customizable homepage are the other primary problem spots. The article informs us:
“Private stats from comScore show that those three areas have continued their longtime decline over the last year, in some cases dropping significantly. In November and December, for example, compared to the same two months a year ago, U.S. search was down 28 percent and 24 percent respectively, while mail was down 16 percent and 12 percent.
“This matters a great deal, since the troika of homepage, mail, and search have been the critical driver of the Yahoo value ecosystem for advertisers.
“The impact of those drops is felt all over Yahoo, whose music, movie, games and travel site have also seen massive drop-offs in traffic year over year in those same months.”
Though the drops in search and email were steep, the home page seemed to stabilize a bit, and Flickr has increased its users by a handsome 37 percent. That could have something to do increased support the CEO has been showing for that project.
Flickr, however, is not enough to save Yahoo, insists Swisher. She does give the company credit for other moves it has been making to refresh its offerings, like a new version of Yahoo Mail and a homepage redesign that emphasizes its mobile and social facets. Will it be enough to keep Yahoo near the top of the heap?
Cynthia Murrell, January 23, 2013
December 28, 2012
It is time once again for Yahoo’s annual Year in Review report, in which the company shares the most popular searches performed with its engine during the preceding year. Search Engine Land gives us the lowdown in “2012 Yahoo Year in Review: Over 500 Top Searches in 50+ Categories.”
Writer Elisabeth Osmeloski emphasizes the role of Vera Chan, Yahoo’s senior editor and Web trend analyst, who has been compiling these lists since 2005:
“[Ms. Chan] clearly enjoys looking for the ‘why’ behind some of these popular search trends. Every year, Ms. Chan hosts a press conference call to share insights and give some context around these searcher behaviors, as she explains that we now live in a ‘Freakonomics’ world — and people like Nate Silver are bringing new meaning to number crunching — she’s clearly one of the people making sense of ‘big data’ at Yahoo.”
So, how do they do it? The company describes its methodology:
“To develop the Yahoo! Year in Review, Yahoo’s editors analyze Yahoo! Search queries based on a number of factors, including absolute volume and the growth from previous periods, to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface. Individuals and their Search queries always remain anonymous. Top searched refers to searches with the highest volume. Spiking refers to searches with the greatest change from one year to the next.”
It looks like users spent 2012 focused on some pretty highbrow topics. Ha, just kidding! While we did look up important stuff like elections and the Colorado wildfires, there are also top-rankers like “honey boo boo,” “gangnam style,” and “Jackson family fight.” It really is an interesting compilation, and you could spend a lot of time perusing the results.
Yahoo breaks popular searches into categories, and this year there are more classifications than ever. There is, of course, Top Searches Overall (not surprisingly, “election” won first place). Some other interesting categories include Top Obsessions (“iphone5″), Top Searched Memes (“kony 2012″), and Top Job Searches (“work from home jobs”). Check out the article for more curious groupings. Or groupings of the curious, if you will.
Cynthia Murrell, December 28, 2012
October 4, 2012
There has been much talk in the tech community about Apple’s public diss of Google with the launch of its own map service and the subsequent neglect of the Google Maps feature the company had been using. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt spoke about this change at a recent Nexus tablet launch, but perhaps made a more shocking statement about a coveted partnership. We learn in the Forbes article, “Eric Schmidt Says Google Would Love to Replace Microsoft as Yahoo!’s Search Partner,” that Google is very interested in replacing Microsoft’s Bing in a search engine partnership with Yahoo.
We learn in the article:
“Of course, Schmidt was involved in the discussions between Yahoo! and Google in late 2008 after the Microsoft buyout fell apart and before Carol Bartz approached Steve Ballmer to do a deal. Google and Yahoo strongly wanted a deal done, but the government said no. […] Several people who cover Yahoo have stated in very strong language that, although the search partnership with Microsoft has been a failure, there is no way that Yahoo could do an alternative deal with Google due to regulatory issues.”
With the marked drop of Yahoo’s search share, the situation is much different than it was in 2009 and reportedly Yahoo could end the deal with Microsoft as early as next year. We may learn more as the new Yahoo CEO (and former Google exec, to boot,) Marissa Mayer preps her presentation on her plans for innovating search at Yahoo. We are left to ponder until then if a deal with the Goog is in the mix.
Andrea Hayden, October 04, 2012
July 19, 2012
I use Yahoo mail. Not much else now. The reason has to do with the interface, the annoying weird stuff which appears when I check my aging My Yahoo page, and the awkward 1995, Excite-style of portal clutter.
Yahoo has zoomed through CEOs, search strategies, open source plays, and acquisitions. I finally ignored the company. It was just an AOL with a different color scheme. Now like AOL, it has a Xoogler at the helm. I wish the new boss well in her job, her new life adventure, and her juggling mom stuff with Yahoo stuff.
A clueless adult provides inputs to a child. Poobahs and pundits embrace this approach to help Yahoo become a powerhouse again. How is that working out, I wonder? A happy quack to http://simplyshreya.blogspot.com/
I read two articles from hugely popular “real” journalistic wizards in big company management. I want to comment on each of the poobah’s insights and then wrap up with a few observations from Harrod’s Creek. If you are a fan of mavens and mystics, you should stop reading now. Why not license a predictive analytics system and get on with your life. That software stuff is going to take over the world anyway.
The write up is by Doug Gross of that business centric CNN. I saw the title and automatically converted it to “How Can CNN Be Saved?”, but I digress.
The main point of the CNN analysis struck me as the nugget in this passage:
By selecting Mayer over interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo could be tipping its hand as to what users can expect. Levinsohn’s background is in content, such as Yahoo News and related offerings such as Yahoo Voices (formerly Associated Content, a publishing platform that’s been criticized as a low-quality “content farm.”) Mayer, meanwhile, comes from a product-development background. In her 13 years at Google she helped create the look of a number of services, from Gmail to Google Maps.
Now there are some amazing quotes in the write up. Let me highlight one which shows the laser like thinking that one brings to saving Yahoo:
“Yahoo!’s fundamental problem is that it has too many disparate products with no clear unifying thread that ties them all together,”analyst Shar VanBoskirk of Forrester Research wrote on the company’s blog this week. VanBoskirk, who has followed Yahoo closely, said Mayer must be open to killing the company’s lesser products as she seeks to move things in the right direction.
Yep, an azure chip consultant suggesting that Yahoo kill products. I had to sit down and catch my breath due to the intellectual stimulation.
July 16, 2012
I wanted to document the event. “Yahoo Appoints Marissa Mayer Chief Executive Officer” appeared on July 16, 2012. Lots of praise in the Yahoo announcement. No argument from Harrods Creek. Here’s a snippet:
Yahoo! Co-Founder David Filo said, “Marissa is a well-known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting strategists in technology development. I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo’s product offerings for our over 700 million unique monthly visitors.” “The Board of Directors unanimously agreed that Marissa’s unparalleled track record in technology, design, and product execution makes her the right leader for Yahoo! at this time of enormous opportunity,” said Fred Amoroso, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
- Our view is that Yahoo has its work cut out for it. A high profile, really rich female may help, but Yahoo has to make some revenue progress.
- Yahoo is quite a bit like AOL. I am not sure this is exactly the type of outfit which can respond to new opportunities. Good ideas are widely available. Doing something that makes a difference may be easier to talk about than do.
- Why did Ms. Mayer leave Google? Money, visibility, power? These are great reasons, but I worry that the softening at Google and the shift under Mr. Page may have been factors. Hopefully more details will emerge.
In the meantime, I would reflect on one of Terry Semel’s Yahoo quotes. This one is from “Yahoo’s Mission Quest.”
“I don’t know that we have a motto. Well, the mission of the company is, Deliver great value to our consumers and, basically, value them.”
Perhaps Ms. Mayer can update this statement?
Stephen E Arnold, July 16, 2012
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