Search Trends in the Recession: Porn Wins Big!

Wow. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. Times are tough. We are in the midst of a recession. And it looks like when times are tough, people get lazier and hornier. The Google Trends graph above is filtered for search volume in the United States from 2004-2009, so don’t tell me that some other countries are skewing the data. Again, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, but seriously? Really? Are humans that predictable?

'porn' wins as Americans get lazy and horny during the recession
'porn' wins as Americans get lazy and horny during the recession

Wow. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. Times are tough. We are in the midst of a recession. And it looks like when times are tough, people get lazier and hornier. The Google Trends graph above is filtered for search volume in the United States from 2004-2009, so don’t tell me that some other countries are skewing the data. Again, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, but seriously? Really? I know, I know. Unemployment is way up, so a lot more people are sitting at home being lazy and bored. Hence, the porn searches. Gosh. Are humans that predictable?

I was also surprised to see a decreasing trend in ‘sports’ searches. I find myself watching more sporting events than ever this year. I guess I’m unique. Yeah right. ‘God’ searches are nice and steady. I’m glad to see people are still into God. ‘Politics’ is also kind of static.  I guess that’s no shocker. Finally, it should be no surprise that ‘coupons’ searches are way up (beginning in late-2008). I like coupons. You should like coupons, too.

Oh well, that is all. This filler post has been brought to you by the hectic holiday season.

Saying Goodbye to the Yahoo Paid Inclusion Program, Yahoo SSP

Walter Sobchak says Goodbye to Yahoo Paid Inclusion
Walter Sobchak says Goodbye to Yahoo Paid Inclusion

Apparently, Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion program is being discontinued as of December 31, 2009. It’s the last paid inclusion program of its kind (or at least it’s the last big one to be discontinued). Often blurring the line between paid search marketing and SEO, Yahoo’s paid inclusion program has become a significant source of organic search revenue for websites all over the world. Because of that, we thought it would be fitting to have Walter Sobchak hold a memorial.

"Good night, sweet prince." - Walter Sobchak
"Good night, sweet prince." - Walter Sobchak

Every time he says Donny, just think Yahoo Paid Inclusion Program or Yahoo SSP:

Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors… and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and… up to… Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.

So maybe it wasn’t a great memorial, but it was certainly a memorial. We’ll miss you, Yahoo Paid Inclusion. We’ll miss you dearly.

The SEO Impact of the Microsoft Bing Yahoo Search Merger

As you have all heard, Yahoo gave up today. Epic give up. Danny Sullivan wrote a great eulogy over at Search Engine Land, and Jason Calacanis said, “Yahoo committed seppuku today.” And over at TechCrunch, “Today, Yahoo died as a search engine.” To make it more depressing – I have already seen name mashups like YooBing, BingYoo, YaBing, Bingoo, BingYah, MicroHoo, BingYa, etc…

I’ve got to admit: Today, I actually teared up a little. I remember surfing Yahoo in 1995, looking for Cliffs Notes for Grendel. Yahoo was the only place to go. I mean, search is a space that Yahoo created! WTF are they doing by throwing in the towel? Yahoo had 20% market share in search. What were they thinking? Obviously, this deal benefits Microsoft more than it benefits Yahoo. So sad…

How about the SEO impacts of the merger of Yahoo and Microsoft Bing? There are a few that come to mind:

  • Will the link: and linkdomain: search operators continue to work on the new Yahoo?
    A few years ago, MSN disabled the link: and linkdomain: search operators at msn.com. This was an important day because you could no longer check MSN’s database stats for inbound links for a site. It came back about a year later, and then went away again. If you haven’t noticed, Google’s link: operator sucks. Google doesn’t want you to know all the links for a site, so the link: command on Google always returns an extremely low, inaccurate number of inbound links. Those bastards! But if you have a WebmasterCentral account for your site(s), you can see some more actual/honest inbound link data. With MSN and Google not providing any worthwhile backlink data, we have been forced to use Yahoo’s linkdomain: operator. Yahoo’s backlink data is much more honest and accurate. For the most part, checking back links is great for 2 purposes: 1) checking your own site(s) backlinks quantity and 2) checking your competitors’ backlinks. If Yahoo uses MSN’s search algorithm and the linkdomain: operator is disabled, it’s going to be really tough to check your competitors’ backlink growth. Furthermore, it will be tough to tell if they are buying links. I’m not into reporting people for buying links, but if you are, you may want to invest in some new backlink tool.
  • What happens to the Yahoo Search Directory?
    This one is interesting. As the Yahoo Directory (dir.yahoo.com) is a money-maker, I can’t imagine Yahoo or Microsoft getting rid of it. However, you may recall that MSN once had a Small Business Directory (archive view) at sbd.bcentral.com. There were thousands of sites in that directory. Now that site redirects to the MS OfficeLive website. If MSN got rid of their own directory, what might they do with the Yahoo Directory? It’s a good question. In terms of link authority and trust, the Yahoo Directory is the #2 directory behind DMOZ. But unlike DMOZ, you can pay $299 per year to be in the the Yahoo Directory. It’s a highly-respected directory, and unlike DMOZ, you won’t have to waits months on end with no answer. As long as you have a good site, you can get into the Yahoo Directory for $299 per year. But if the Yahoo Directory is discontinued….holy crap. That is a lot of link juice that will just evaporate. A lot of sites will lose quality historical links. Maybe it will shake things up a bit. Maybe not. Either way, you may want to make sure your sites find their way into other trusted directories, like business.com and botw.org.
  • What happens to Yahoo’s feeds programs, such as Paid Inclusion and SSP?
    Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion and Search Submit Pro (SSP) programs are crucial traffic and revenue sources for many search agencies and online retailers. It’s a huge business, and without it, many online retailers would see massive drops in revenue. Essentially, these programs allow you to pay for organic rankings in Yahoo on a pay-per-click basis. You may not know this, but for several years, MSN used Google and  Yahoo for its search. It wasn’t until LiveSearch launched that MSN actually broke away from Yahoo and Google. During the time MSN was using Yahoo for its search platform, Yahoo feeds were showing up in MSN results. But when LiveSearch launched on 9/11/2006, MSN no longer had a feeds program. They didn’t use one for LiveSearch, and there is currently no feeds program for Bing. As Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion and SSP programs are critical components for agencies and retailers alike, it should be a no-brainer to keep the programs active as part of the Microsoft search platform. But I guess we’ll have to see what happens.

    Update: Yahoo Search Submit Pro (SSP) Discontinued Effective Dec. 31, 2009

  • What happens to Yahoo channels such as Yahoo Shopping and Yahoo Travel?
    This is really just an extension to the previous question, but these are huge sources of traffic. Be sure to keep an eye on what happens with these channels. Yahoo Shopping is HUGE. I mean HUGE!!!! I can’t imagine anything happening to it. I can’t even imagine them merging it with Bing Shopping or Bing Cashback. That would be stupid.
  • One less searchbot crawling the internet
    We’ll miss you, Yahoo Slurpbot. You traveled long. You traveled far. You did your job without complaining once. You were a true soldier. RIP, Slurpbot.
  • Rank checkers will have one less engine to check
    Whereas you were probably checking Google, Yahoo and Bing for rankings, now you’ll just have to run your keyword lists across Google and Bing. And honestly, some website owners might be happy with the results, as many sites rank much better in Bing than in Yahoo.
  • Ask.com quietly moves into position as the #3 search engine
    Ha! I still miss Jeeves. He was a trooper. But also be aware that LBi Netrank has some data showing that Ask.com is (sometimes) scraping Google for search results. Are we losing Yahoo and Ask?!?!?!
  • Optimizing for Google and Bing at the same time
    It kinda sucks, but SEOs get accused of only optimizing for Google. It happens all the time, and all we have to do is point to the fact that Google has a 70% market share (and depending on the vertical, it’s sometimes higher). And then clients remind us that Yahoo has 20% and Microsoft Bing has 8%. At that point, we continue to point at Google’s 70% market share. But now, according to comScore, Yahoo’s 20% will combine with Bing’s 8% market share to combine for 28% of the market share. 28% market share is nothing to sneeze at, so we have to focus on both Google and Bing. While Google and Bing both respond to strategic SEO methods, it is worthwhile to note that Google gives more weight to links and Bing gives more weight to a site’s domain name (i.e. You’d better have keywords in your domain name & URL!). In my experience, Google and Bing are a lot closer in terms of how they value traditional SEO methods. Keywords in the title tag, keywords in the domain, organized site structure, updated content with decent keyword density, optimized internal links, inbound link growth – both engines reward these methods, as they are the basic building blocks of an SEO campaign. And while these are common signals for all 3 engines, my experience leads me to believe that Google and Bing reward these methods more quickly and predictably. Furthermore, seeing how Bing is pulling in more content into its search results pages, you may want to pay more attention to how your content is optimized and arranged on your site’s pages.

Well, that’s all for today. We’ll miss you, Yahoo. I’m still upset. I hope you find happiness. I know we can be friends again some day in the future, but please don’t call me now. I need some time to get over you.

Update:

  • John Battelle: Questions on the Yahoo Bing Deal (link)
  • SEOmoz: Top 10 Things the Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal Changes for SEO (link)

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Admits to Wanting Do-Over on Search

There is an awesome post over at TG Daily (link). At the Executives Club Chicago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was asked a question that had everyone on the edge of their seats: “If you could have one do-over, what would it be?”

I would probably say I would start sooner on search,” Ballmer stated to the crowd. Ballmer stressed that the company knew of search the research and effort had been put in, they weren’t sure of the market and that they had no business model. It just wasn’t there. The company lacked in an application for their findings.

Wow. I’m amazed at his honesty. However, I completely agree. I also like how he referred to Bing.com as “the little engine that could.” FYI: Microsoft is marketing Bing.com as a decision engine, not a search engine.

Did You Know: Search Edition

Did you know that YouTube gets more searches than Yahoo? proof

Did you know that Twitter rejected a $500 million dollar offer from Facebook? proof

Did you know that Greg Boser is credited with coining the term ‘link juice’? proof

And remember if it’s on the internet, it’s must be true.