Well, today is the day that the music died. Yahoo is shutting down Geocities. 2009 is turning out to be a big year for Yahoo. There was the announcement that Geocities would close. Then there was the Yahoo/MSN merger, where Yahoo announced that MSN would provide the natural search results for Yahoo at some point in the near future. Then Yahoo announced they were going to discontinue the Yahoo Paid Inclusion Program (Yahoo SSP). And today is the day that Yahoo will official shut down Geocities. It honestly feels like a piece of my childhood is dying. My first website was on Geocities. Awwwww….how cute.
In January of 1999, Yahoo purchased Geocities for $3.57 billion in stock. They spent $3.57 billion for an asset, and now it’s closing 10 years later. Sheesh. Do you think they made their money back? Ugh. What a downer.
BTW, anyone have any idea how DMOZ is going to react to this news? They are going to have a tough time removing/redirecting all those Geocities listings in the DMOZ directory.
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.
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.
I just got word that Yahoo’s paid inclusion program Search Submit Pro (aka Yahoo SSP) is being discontinued effective December 31, 2009. Everyone has been wondering if Yahoo and Bing would keep Paid Inclusion (Search Submit Pro) up and running after the Yahoo/MSN deal. But it looks like now the verdict is in. Paid Inclusion and Yahoo SSP will be discontinued. Bro hymn for Yahoo SSP. You were a great soldier in the new millennium, and you were the last Paid Inclusion program to fall. Damn.
The impact of this decision will obviously have massive implications in the world of search. There are a lot of websites out there that rely on Yahoo SSP as a source of traffic, revenue and brand exposure. And there are also a ton of marketers who rely on Yahoo Search Submit Pro as a search marketing tool for their clients. Furthermore, Yahoo SSP may not be a huge revenue stream for Yahoo (maybe it’s $100M per year?), but I am still very surprised by the decision to discontinue the program. After all, it’s an effective program that drives millions of dollars every year. Maybe they had to discontinue Yahoo SSP in order to get the Yahoo/MSN deal completed. I’m sure more official blogs/sources will have more official details very soon.
So long, Yahoo SSP. You were a dear friend to the interwebs, and we’ll miss you dearly.
Update 1 (10/14/2009): I wish I could give you a source or a link or something, but I can provide nothing to confirm this post. But believe me, Yahoo’s paid inclusion program is about to go bye-bye. Today I’ve seen people tweeting about it, so I’m sure the details will emerge soon enough. But for now, my lack of proof makes this seem like a rumor. Take it or leave it. I’ll post links once the official story breaks.
Update 2 (10/15/2009): It appears David Lewis got the call from Yahoo, too.
Update 3 (10/16/2009): Barry Schwartz has an official post about Yahoo Paid Inclusion being discontinued. Jump over to SearchEngineLand.com to see it.
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.
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.
John Battelle: Questions on the Yahoo Bing Deal (link)
SEOmoz: Top 10 Things the Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal Changes for SEO (link)