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Yahoo Search Engine and Directory Forum

Slowest Search Engine in History?
like watching paint dry

 10:48 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yahoo really has not fully updated it's index in months. The data they are using to score sites may be 5-6 months old. What do you smart folk figure is going on over there? Tech issues? Don't care anymore? Lazy?

It's interesting as when Yahoo! first launched on their own most recently, they were quite quick to update. Now, they may be the slowest out of any, during any period I can recall. Scoring sites based on old, old data is really weak. And no, I am not just talking about the 3 year old hard coded serps that never ever change, which we KNOW is laziness.

We had a site that we changed over to a new domain but didn't bother with a 301 as we all know what happens there...Anyhow, there has not been ONE single link pointing there for 5 months and it is still scoring, and this term is quite competetive. The point here, is they do not seem to care about NOW anymore. It's puzzling and a bit disturbing as many here were hoping for a bit more out of Y!.

Oh, and lets not get into a y sucks/y is great debate, or even worse a "my site is..." talk (the reason I brought the one site up was to illustrate how I am 100% certain the data being used is not near current). I am simply curious what everyone thinks is the reasoning behind this slowdown.



 10:08 pm on Feb 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree the data seems really old. I keep wanting to believe that the changes are just too subtle for me to see, but sounds like there is a lot of consensus that it is really old data.


 3:46 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am seeing changes in my category as of 2-3 weeks ago. ie. significant ranking changes.

This isn't to say that Y! isn't slow though, as they are. The above changes took about 4mths to happen.

I think that Y! has sort of given up on search - as was publicly stated by a senior rep. and by what we are all seeing day to day in the serps.


 5:43 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yahoo: aah who need stinking new updates!


 8:59 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am seeing changes in my category as of 2-3 weeks ago.

Sure, I am not denying that there are some changes.

Overall, however, the data is simply old. This does not mean that Y! are not crawling and even indexing new stuff, it means they are largely scoring pages based on either old data or their editorial staff placements - neither gives me great confidence that they will even be able to hang on to their 20% search share...

The sad part of it all is, IMHO, Yahoo was starting to do a pretty decent job and one of the few edges they may have had over G was that they were actually updating, and quickly. The other puzzling move was rather than to update the hard coded serps (come on guys it's been years on some of these) or banish them all together, they added more!?

A while back Google reverted to using old data during a big overhaul and people were outraged while this was only for around 1.5 months. Yahoo may be going on about half of a year now!


I do realize the odd page does "make a move" based on what appears to be new link data, but largely we are looking at an index, based on data collected sometime around October.


 12:30 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

There was this post a few weeks ago about how Yahoo is giving up the goal of being number 1. I guess it's true (though I hope not-- Lets see some fresh data Yahoo!)



 8:59 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

I see the second data centre occasionally. I beleive yahoo has 2 data centres? I am so bored of looking at their results that seeing the second data set is cool. They should chage it to www most of the time.


 9:18 am on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

>Yahoo really has not fully updated it's index in months.

No it hasn't, but why should it?

Get copies of the last 10 years worth of yellow pages for your area.....compare them.....see a simularity? The world doesn't change every 4 weeks.

Yahoo updates its index a tad every few weeks...not with a major recycling, not by turning everything upside down and inside out. It adds new sites very quickly, it bumps up and lowers sites a little at a time......but, no it doesn't change its entire algo from month to month.

Yahoo is not as exciting as Google, it doen't kill businesses overnight and make others rich in hours. It is a staple of the Internet, IMHO there is nothing wrong with being a stable staple.

I like a search engine that keeps the same basic rules, crawls frequently, indexes accordingly, moves sites a tad based upon current link popularity, title, tags and content, but, doesn't throw huge mysterious spanners in the works that lead to confusion and worry about nothing.

As an SEO Yahoo lets me spend my days of the golf course or sailing. I really prefer that to worrying about some penalty that doesn't turn out to be a penalty at all!


 11:49 am on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

We have a site that's been totally redesigned + new content almost 8 months ago.

Despites their bot hammering the site, almost no pages from the new version was updated.

YES, Yahoo is slow, it must cost money though to re index right? :) cheap engine.

Having fresh results is a sign of good health.

Hammering sites with unstopping crawls while not refreshing the index is stupid, waste of time and money for both them and us.


 3:40 pm on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

The internet world DOES change every 4 weeks, or faster. Yahoo isn't a yellow pages, and if they think like that they're never going to succeed as a search engine. Part of what search engine users want is "freshness" - it's not the whole part, but it's a big part, and on some searches it's everything. If you only update once every 5 months, then the results will tend to be older sites and will tend to exclude anything that may have become more relevant or important in the interim. This is the kiss of death on a lot of searches.

For example, if you do general searches related to supreme court confirmation or nominations on Yahoo, you get only general stuff and some stuff about Harriet Miers (again, 5 months old). Do the same searches on Google, you get some of the general stuff along with stuff about Alito. Google's results have changed to reflect what people will want, Yahoo's haven't. For that particular search, Yahoo is much more useless at giving people what they need because "freshness" is a big component of what people are looking for. It is more or less true for different searches (searchers for new cars will want recent results with the new models, searchers for a microwave may not care as much). But until Yahoo can discriminate between which searches people want newer stuff in and which they don't, it can't just rely on 5 month old data if it wants to succeed. It's a sure way to turn their site from a search engine into a Yellow Pages, and frankly they've already got one on there.


 4:17 pm on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

One other thing I've been thinking about is: why is it so dangerous to their business to have data that is so old?

Because the key to building a successful search engine is to have a large base of loyal users who search ONLY at your engine. The problem is that it is impossible to build loyalty if you're constantly serving up results that don't give people what they want and force them to go somewhere else. I generally only leave Google to search on Yahoo or MSN if it doesn't give me what I want. That is usually only on really obscure searches - people's names, etc. But with 5 month old data, there are all kinds of searches where you aren't going to get what you want or need. News related searches, products that have frequent new models, and especially technical information or questions (where you need to spider large forums or sites where people are asking or answering the questions, and you need to serve up recent data because technology changes). Any time a user has to go somewhere else to get the information they want, they build familiarity and comfortability with the other search engine. That means less "exclusive" yahoo users.

It seems to me like Yahoo's current strategy is to have a piece of junk search engine and draw users there from the other stuff on the site. They have lots of other good tools on there - maps, yellow pages, real estate, financial stuff, and I use it frequently for that. But that's not going to work to keep people at the site for searches - you have to make it something they want to come to for its own sake, or you'll just get the people who go to the site for a stock quote. I think monthly updates are about the least frequent you can do - MSN seems to do biweekly and Google may be a little more frequently than that. Why the heck would they give up on a major indicator of search engine usefulness and cede it to the other two?


 6:42 pm on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

they're never going to succeed as a search engine.

They already have succeeded. Yahoo is not a start-up search engine. But, they really should make an effort to update a bit more regularly, in my opinion. I added an RSS feed to my site over a month ago, for example, and it is still not reflected in the serps (with an "Add to My Yahoo" link).


 6:49 pm on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Im my experience,

Yahoo as been quite fast to index a new site we just launched a month ago...

All pages are indexed in the yahoo engine according to site explorer...

But we don't rank for any (I mean any) query even for that non-competitive-6word-query.

We have a low amount of visits from msn, and a whooping 100 visits per day from google (obscure queries)...

So, I would sat that yahoo is the slowest in this regard..

For what it's worth..



 2:10 am on Mar 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

you could look at it this way, if you ever get in Yahoo chances are you will be there for a long time!


 2:46 pm on Mar 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

[quote] I think monthly updates are about the least frequent you can do - MSN seems to do biweekly and Google may be a little more frequently than that. Why the heck would they give up on a major indicator of search engine usefulness and cede it to the other two?[quote]


If you nailed one of the hard coded serps you have been sitting there for 2.5+ years now. Also, even the non-hand-picked pages we have/see in there are locked in for months upon months. But, I would prefer them to actually be a decent engine, and having fell so far behind is not good.

But seriously, why crawl the $#%$ out of sites so often and never, ever update the scoring with the data you are seemingly gathering? Everyone suffers here. Both Yahoo, their shareholders and the webmasters.

STOP CRAWLING IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO USE THE DATA. Finding/indexing sites does not really impress anyone. How about actually scoring them? If I change the topic of a site, why should it score for its original topic/terms for 5 months after the change? Something really funky is going on over there.

Looks like no one can name a search engine slower to update in the history of the web so far...


 9:37 am on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

>Looks like no one can name a search engine slower to update in the history of the web so far...

LOL....this looks like bait, but, what the heck I'll bite.

There have been many very slow search engines in history, but, I think you already knew that. You also knew that the ones I would name are now mostly owned by Yahoo.

I'd just like to add something that is not a Webmaster issue, but a people issue, yes, something the 99.999% of the real population think about!

It is this:

If all you do is search for "Geek" terms please use Google, it is a Geek engine. If you have a life then maybe some other engines are better for you.

I was looking for several products this last week, mainly building materials like flagstone and bamboo. These are not "Hi-Tech" geek businesses, they are things that remain stable for many years.

I don't need weekly SE updates for these sites, once per year would be more often than the sites get updated.

Not convinced yet? Well I also searched today for a grand piano that was released to the market in 1999 (7 years ago). It was shown on PBS today, and I wanted it.

Google gave me a grand total of 4 none relevant pages out of its huge index, Yahoo a grand total of 3 none relevant pages, for a product 6 years+ old......see the World doesn't change as fast as Webmasters think it does!


 1:05 pm on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

If all you do is search for "Geek" terms please use Google, it is a Geek engine

I have had some really good experiences searching on Yahoo for scientific information. I recently broke my foot, a break which has a special name. I searched and searched on Google for useful information about this particular break, ways to heal faster (without buying a bunch of crap from affiliate sites), and personal experiences with this type of break (from forums, etc). I eventually gave up on Google and went to Yahoo where I found twice as many useful resources/pages.

Sure, I am very angry with the way Yahoo has banned my site and refuses to listen to my requests for reinclusion; maybe one day they will remove the penalty. And while I would like to see them index and update a bit faster, their scoring algorithms seem to produce more relevance in my experience than G and M.


 3:20 pm on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

see the World doesn't change as fast as Webmasters think it does!

The world may not, but the url's they are returning do. I don't think many users want to see pages that are deleted, or have changed topic entirely. ALso, again, why CRAWL the web every other day if they are content with the results for extended periods of time? Not convinced? How does the user feel when he hits my site on a software query when it now sells printer ink?

Anyhow, I wasn't really asking whether or not you thought it was good or bad, rather if you have ever seen anthing so dreadfully far behind. And even yahoo's legacy - the drek they bought, they were not quite this slow.


 2:07 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've had a site up for a month, its being crawled but out of 1500+ pages only 3 pages have been indexed!

At first i thought it may be something to do with dynamic urls - most of my pages are configured like so: www.domain.com/detail.aspx?ID=1234

I don't know what's going on, is yahoo just being seriously slow or have i got some tech issues?

Who knows?


 3:02 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have the same problems for a handful of sites that I work with. We tried using the batch URL text file submission process that they recommend for webmasters, and it has been over three weeks without any changes. Unfortunately, I do not have access to this particular sites log files to see how often the Yahoo spider gets there. Judging the cached page, I know that it has not been updated for at least a month. We also have worked with some RSS updates that are still pending as well. It seems strange to me that a major player like this would take this long to do anything - I wonder if they are also (like Google) planning major changes under the covers?


 3:15 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

well said kneukm03.


 10:19 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Interestingly enough, I should point out that I am working with two other existing sites, both of which had done complete URL rewrites (incorporating 301 redirects), and both of those sites show the new URL's in Yahoo's site index. The changes happened arond teh same time as the other site I was talking about went live (new site) I wonder if there is some sort of aging mechanism at play here as well (a la Google Sandbox)? Any thoughts on this? Thanks


 4:27 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't think there's a deliberate aging mechanism in the same sense as Google. It does seem like there are changes in updates that help existing sites as compared to newer ones. I had one site get a couple weeks of link-building factored into the December update, and on obscure, multi-word terms it has gotten some OK rankings on pages added since the update. I have sites built after the update that don't seem to be able to do this at all. So it may be that a site needs to go through an update to be ranked at all on new pages in the interim.

The problem is that I don't think this is some sort of deliberate aging mechanism like Google uses, it's just that they haven't updated their data since Dec. 15th (which I think was October-ish data). It's one thing to use age of a site as a metric in ranking it. MSN has been open about using "freshness" as a bonus in ranking things. Google makes a deliberate choice to trust sites that are older, and while its algorithm is a little more cloudy I think everyone agrees that it likes both old, trusted sites and fresh, updated content. Yahoo's problem involves something that isn't a deliberate part of the algorithm - a failure to include all of the data it has gathered until many months later.

This makes it much harder to apply "age" in any sensible way as a ranking factor. In my opinion at least, you have to be factoring in at both ends - old, established sites probably deserve a benefit over new, unestablished ones, all things being equal. Yahoo's failure to update guarantees that - no one's getting any new sites in until the whim to update their engine takes over again. But it doesn't do anything about the other end - rewarding fresh content. A site that hasn't been updated in 2 years should probably be ranked lower than one that is updated recently, again all things being equal. Information changes, and 2 year old information is generally worse or less useful than 2 day old information. There's a trustworthiness issue at both ends, and the result of Yahoo's current approach is overbroad in favoring age and totally defunct in terms of favoring freshness.


 6:39 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

>if you have ever seen anthing so dreadfully far behind.

I must be missing something.

I changed a site on 03/01/06, a new home page and several new links to lower pages. I just tested Yahoo, it shows the new home page in its cache, it reflects the new title and even has the new lower pages indexed, even though they don't rank well yet for common terms.

My offering to the world with making these changes is not significant, it is to increase my personal wealth, but, I simply don't see how Yahoo is slow?

If it took 6 months to index my latest work I wouldn't care that much, the playing field against the competition would still be flat!

I reworded some stuff and made some changes to improve my traffic. Some of it has helped already, some of it will help in time.

I still don't understand why we need an "instant" world. Is a week too long to wait....is 3 months too long to wait?

Since the day I started in the business of manipulating search results I have always played the long game.

You put lots of irons in the fire and "hope" some get hot. Instant results are only good for SEO's that need them, not for the users of the SE's.


 9:30 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I totally agree with kneukm03 and could not put it better than that.

I think that yahoo fails in its way to comprehend nowadays internet search, eventually they don't really care but to make money from ppc and so called social networking.

It probably makes yahoo feel better to see people such as percentage above which was lucky to see his changes reflected in yahoo very shortly but that's not what I see across the board.

At 90% yahoo will hammer websites for months and still not show fresh url's on SERP. I think that's pitiful.
For those who think that having fresh sERP is not important...please think about it again.
most of the time webmasters like yahoo's slowness because when they get on top rankings they stick there forever whether they are still relevant to the search query or not which is terrible from th euser standpoint.


 12:46 am on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

I must be missing something.

Yah, no question about that.

I still don't understand why we need an "instant" world. Is a week too long to wait....is 3 months too long to wait?

A week, no. 3 months yeah. 6 months, definitely. If you actually read some of the points, your perspective might change. For instance, THE END USER GETS TO SEE DELETED CRAP FOR 5 MONTHS NOW. This is why updating SCORING can be useful as an example.

Since the day I started in the business of manipulating search results I have always played the long game.

Why would anyone here possibly care? This has nothing to do with the topic. Go discuss your brilliant SEO strategies somewhere else. Maybe you can start a thread about why using really old data is fine, but this was intended to be a discussion in which we could talk about reasons WHY this is occuring.

Yahoo's problem involves something that isn't a deliberate part of the algorithm - a failure to include all of the data it has gathered until many months later.



 1:09 am on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

kneukm03, i wanted to add, your 3rd post ever was probably better than 99% of what will be said on here. Welcome to Webmasterworld!


 1:16 pm on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

Using fresh data is totally important. I can't believe anyone would even think otherwise!

Users searching want current information, not information 4 months old. This applies to anything, not just the most searched terms like television shows (think american idol), movies, music, autos, etc, etc, etc...

The simple truth is that Yahoo needs to get off their duff and start updating their serps more often. Users are already realizing that Yahoo doesn't provide fresh search results - hence the drop in the search market share for them. Even MSN is better for indexing fresh sites.

I just don't understand how the head of search can sit around watching this happen... If it were me in charge - heads would be rolling.


 11:33 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have noticed this too. My home page it fairly current in the cache (usually 2-3 weeks old), but all my sup pages are showing old data.

Yet, Yahoo is CONSTANTLY slurpin' my site.

So what gives, Y?

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