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Yahoo on the Brink of Throwing out The Golden Goose?
Brett_Tabke




msg:830809
 8:51 pm on Jan 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Much of the scuttlebut recently has revolved around a simple question: will Yahoo toss the directory out when it goes to full Inktomi powered results?

That was once sacrilege to ask, but it is pretty clear that the directory model is a relic of history.

 

PatrickDeese




msg:830839
 1:14 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The thing is, they are getting value out of their directory - the directory is the framework from which they are hanging contextual advertising from Overture.

They are their own premium content publisher - people pay $300 per year to have the privilege to compete with Overture adverts.

At any rate, Yahoo Directory does send plenty of visitors to non-commercial SERPs.

I have an info site that has over 20 Y! directory listings, and it is easily getting 15% of unique visitors from Y! Directory.

> non-commercial SERPs.

Sorry, that should have been sites.

[edited by: PatrickDeese at 1:52 am (utc) on Jan. 23, 2004]

mfishy




msg:830840
 1:37 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

<<A search engine that relies heavily on a human edited directory will always beat one that relies purely on bots.>>

Really? Wonder what percent of Google's searches come through their directory? If people always opt for quality, how come next to no one uses their directory?

How would a bunch of people sift through 3 billion web pages on a daily basis to check for changes?

<<Human edited directories are the wave of the future, not the past.>>

Hmmm...thought IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft were dall developing algorythmic search as we speak. Maybe behind the scenes these web giants are hiring masses of teenagers to rate web pages instead of that whole "AI" thingy :)

To be honest, I had completely forgotten that Yahoo! even had a directory.

steveb




msg:830841
 1:47 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Wonder what percent of Google's searches come through their directory?"

Wonder who is going to win the Super Bowl? What does the non-sequiter have to do with the original comment?

mfishy




msg:830842
 2:35 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

<deleted myself>

[edited by: mfishy at 3:29 am (utc) on Jan. 23, 2004]

msgraph




msg:830843
 3:07 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The day that a search engine kills the integration of a directory is the day that the search engine dies.

Algorithms can only go so far and so can the capabilities of editor-based directories, that is why they both need to co-exist.

Robert Charlton




msg:830844
 6:34 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Directories can be great. Recent Google results have unearthed all sorts of fabulous ODP categories. ;) Florida aside, I don't think Google would be as precise as it is without ODP.

I'm also a big fan of high quality niche directories... wish there were more of them.

And yes, Yahoo's directory has gotten pretty scraggly... definitely doesn't reflect the kind of care I'm seeing from some dedicated ODP editors... but I don't think a lot of businesses know that.

There are still a lot of folks out there who think that the meta keywords tag and submission to Yahoo is all there is to SEO. We may know that some categories aren't worth $300/yr, either in terms of PageRank boost or drill-down traffic, but many people will keep paying.

Maybe the directory isn't as lucrative to Yahoo as PFI or PPC, but I can't imagine that at $300/yr for three minutes of an editor's work that Yahoo is losing money on it. And they'd be kinda naked without it, like McDonalds without hamburgers.

For local and regional in Yahoo, though, I see Internet Yellow Pages coming along fast... and I'm already wondering what the algo is going to be on the paid listings there.

Robert Charlton




msg:830845
 6:39 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

And a quick PS... I think Yahoo is much too savvy to pull another LookSmart with webmasters.

Fairla




msg:830846
 7:21 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Steveb, I agree -- the only problem with Yahoo's directory is that they abandoned quality and started selling listings. There's a desperate need now for REAL directories (ie, directories that list the best sites and do not charge for listings).

I used to use Yahoo all the time, and now that Google's getting less useful, I'd love to have a real directory to fall back on when looking for info.

steveb




msg:830847
 7:45 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yahoo's directory isn't a shining light of civilization, and they don't have reall good equilibrium on the whole -- either you can't get in for free, or too much crapola pays to get in -- but still it generally provides far higher quality sites than searches on any engine (if you compare the 30 sites in a category to the top 30 in a search with no notice paid to the search ranking).

As search becomes more valuable, the more sense it makes to spend more money on editors and directories to cull out the piffle, spam, duplicates and other very low quality sites, while valuing above average sites.

Also, as I've mentioned before, my #1 keyword has been ranked on Yahoo since August using some non-Google, non-Ink, Non-Fast, non-AV algorithm that gives heavy weight to the Directory (plus mostly Google). These results are excellent, and a good zillion times better than Ink. If they want quality results, this is the direction to go.

dirkz




msg:830848
 11:00 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yahoo started with a directory for FREE. Yahoo without a directory is like IBM without selling hardware.

peterdaly




msg:830849
 11:48 am on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I believe a critical piece of a good search engine algorith is taking a human edited directory into account when defininf SERPs. That does not mean that every search engine that has a directory is a good search engine.

A Human Edited Dir is like PageRank, it's part of a bigger equation which helps to create better SERPs.

Easy_Coder




msg:830850
 2:11 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sheesh... I wonder if I would get a refund on the listing I just submitted.

easy_coder

oneguy




msg:830851
 2:13 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Or Yahoo could keep the directory and when presenting Ink results, they could introduce a slight negative bias for sites not in the directory.
This could hide under the guise of "Link Popularity".

That's what I'm expecting. Why not sell paid inclusion and directory listings? For webmasters, one could enhance the value of the other.

They could drop a very slight hint somewhere, just suggesting that their directory is a small part of their algo. ( "to enhance the experience of the surfer," of course.)

Netgran




msg:830852
 2:27 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The key attribute in holding back new algo's has been processing power. New algo's will be focusing on the ontology of a site (todate we have had to rely on Human classification - which are already the "learning" devices for auto classification.)

Over the next year or so, expect new algo's which I think will replace the need for human classification - thus Direcotries as we know them - will become extinct (unless there is still a viable business model.)

finer9




msg:830853
 2:44 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

dirk - Something like 65% of IBM's revenue (or earnings, can't remember) is from SERVICES now...

Mikkel Svendsen




msg:830854
 3:57 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I used to manage Scandinavias largest search engine - including a directory and local editorial staff of +13 people. I know the metrics behind such a product and I promise you it aint that good.

Back then, we did some analysis on present and future cost of running the directory and potential earnings. The charts did NOT look good. In fact, every single model we tested would only lead to less and less profitabibility over time.

One of the main factors here was, as with any directory, the cost of human resources. Not even with a $299 submision fee would it be profitable in the long run and there would have been no way for us to scale up production: More production would have to be supported by more people = more cost. The product was simply not profitable enough and impossible to scale.

Would you pay $999 or $1599 for a Yahoo sumission? I guess not :)

I do off course not know Yahoo's internal numbers on but I bet you they are not that different than what I had to deal with in my previous job: The metrics are the same and the lack of scalability identical. Much different from the recently aquired Overture ...

So, I would not be surprised if Yahoo choose to focus more on Overture, Inktomi and other services that can scale and be much more profitable - and still serve users with resutls that most normal users seem to to be saticefied with.

Bobby_Davro




msg:830855
 4:06 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I run a UK directory, and we charge 10 for a review. Because we outsource the reviewing on a per-review basis, the site runs at a nice profit. Combine that with the PPC advertising revenue and the site could probably employ four full time employees without any difficulty, but that would be way more than the site requires at the moment.

If we could charge 199 for each review, we would be absolutely raking the cash in. I honestly can't see how Yahoo aren't making a small fortune from the directory. It will be nothing in comparison to the PPC profits, but money is money, and the directory is a good long term asset.

finer9




msg:830856
 4:25 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bobby- that's what I was thinking!

Kirby




msg:830857
 4:58 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The value in a directory is with terms like "real estate" that are very broad.

While the serps for this term in the past have been populated with agents sites, now one can see commercial, appraisal, real estate sections of local papers, large real estate portals, etc.

With the directory, I can drill down into the sub cats that best apply and find listings much more specific to my search. While I dont use it that much, when I do need it, it offers value. I hope they keep it.

MrSpeed




msg:830858
 5:59 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I honestly can't see how Yahoo aren't making a small fortune from the directory.

They have tons of costs associated with maintaining server farms, technicians, CMS etc...

egomaniac




msg:830859
 6:48 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

> but it is pretty clear that the directory model is a relic of history.

Agreed. Very few people search the Yahoo directory and even fewer search the ODP. New web surfers don't even know about these tools, and likely won't find out about them.

Irregardless of people's claims here about how useful they are or how much we might like them, usage of them is low.

From a profit viewpoint, I think Yahoo will dump it and while increasing the fee for Paid INK inclusion. I do believe the free INK inclusion for "worthy" sites will continue, otherwise Yahoo/INK will be junked up index (a lesson they already learned a couple of years ago).

figment88




msg:830860
 8:53 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I wish people would stop saying "directory" when they mean "general all-inclusive directory."

Specialty directories (aka niche directories) are certainly not dead and in many instances provide listed sites with more traffic than search engines.

steveb




msg:830861
 11:21 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Irregardless of people's claims here about how useful they are or how much we might like them, usage of them is low."

And certainly totally irrelevant. Why do people even mention this in the context of this discussion?

There are two issues here. The minor one is whether the directory itself is profitable on a $299/site basis. The proof of that is that Yahoo has happily continued it for so long, expecially the past 18 months. But again this is minor. The major issue is the value of having quality, relevant search results that the public embraces. Google got visitors in part because it embraced the ODP. Yahoo could become a favored search location, with the associated $$$$$$$$$ benefits of that, by adding weight (on top of a bot algorithm) to sites that earned their way into the directory.

Whether people themselves drill down into the directory is so unimportant that it isn't worth mentioning. Yes, as a user that can be useful, but the commerce of all this for Yahoo is being "the search destination". Obviously they have no chance of that by using Ink. The Directory should be central to their plans.

Fairla




msg:830862
 11:54 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think usage is low because these directories currently stink. Full of dead links and out-of-date content, little or no inclusion of new, good content for free. And this neglect has been going on for years. Why would anyone use a useless resource?

Yahoo could hire inexpensive telecommuters to review and maintain the directory. (Something like AOL's ACI program.) Without its directory, what is Yahoo? Just another search site in the crowd.

hutcheson




msg:830863
 3:32 am on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Looksmart taking itself off limits to SE spiders was, um, a free gift to search engines -- remember that study saying Inktomi results were actually more relevant WITHOUT access to Looksmart directory entries?

But Looksmart had long before gone the way of the shill for hire, and that was the inevitable result. Yahoo's free results have not kept up with the internet, although they surely aren't "worse than worthless" yet.

mfishy




msg:830864
 12:57 am on Jan 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

<<by adding weight (on top of a bot algorithm) to sites that earned their way into the directory. >>

bought their way into the directory. We all know that basically any site that can be accessed on the web can get into the directory.

To the original question, I would imagine they will keep the directory as it is basically never used so they don't have to worry much about quality, just keep it hidden from the public like they have been doing. I doubt Y! spent a quarter BILLION on INK for fun...

buzzmaster




msg:830865
 1:10 am on Jan 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Directories are used to "seed" search engine spidering. This adds a human-reviewed qualification to the algorithms. For the same reason, directories are considered authorities for many of the algorithms discussed.

Could Yahoo block directory access to Google but use the directory to increase relevancy of Inktomi results?

rytis




msg:830866
 6:08 pm on Jan 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Directories like governments - corrupted and unavoidable. It's nature. When too corrupted they fall and are replaced by others.

LizardGroupie




msg:830867
 2:30 pm on Jan 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is great news for those of us who love the Open Directory. It means DMOZ will be more important than ever!

dirkz




msg:830868
 7:07 pm on Jan 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

> It means DMOZ will be more important than ever!

Oh my God. Don't let Yahoo drop their direcory :)

dirkz




msg:830869
 7:11 pm on Jan 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Back then, we did some analysis on present and future cost of running the directory and potential earnings. The charts did NOT look good.

Ok, it's pretty clear that it's not the golden goose. You won't get rich with it. I just can't believe it's not profitable (meaning that earnings are higher than costs).

Even if they just break even with it, what is Yahoo without a directory? And I don't mean financially.

Remember? :)
[wired.com...]

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