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I think Yahoo could well be the dark horse here, with Googles results currently weak they can take full advantage.
Whilst Updating is a good idea they dont want to do it to frequently otherwise users dont have stability with the results. This was the main reason why the UK Government Search facility due out later this year dropped Google in favour of Yahoo, it was purely due to results stability.
First impressions of this update are that its very good.
But here we are talking about changing the SERPS once every month or every few weeks. The average user is not going to remember their query they used to get to a web site that long. You have to counterbalance these things, and you can't just leave the index the same forever because it's stable. Yahoo was gradually turning into a clone of the Wayback machine.
I also don't think regular updates fix every issue they have. Yahoo has a good opportunity to grab market share because the BigDaddy results have been so awful in many cases - when I'm researching topics to write about on my sites, I'm constantly hitting dead links in Google. But updating the results regularly doesn't cut it completely as far as speed goes. There's two basic parts to getting a "current" set of search results - grabbing new information about web sites with your spiders, and ranking that information once you have it. Regular index updates fix the second one. But Yahoo's spiders are just slow - and they're falling behind Google on this front. It can take several months for Yahoo to index static html sites fully - I'll have 30 or so links from the main page, all very simple structure and nothing fancy, and it will periodically seem to grab one or two pages and add them in. That process takes months. Google's new Mozilla bot gets the entire site, and it catches new pages within days. If Yahoo just fixes the speed issue with the ranking of data, and doesn't grab it faster, it won't be able to catch up. But at least they seem to be moving on this.
Anyway, I went back to basics, corrected (and optimized) a whole bunch of things and within 3 weeks, I was climbing back up and now am higher than I was last month.
The current results for my key phrase seems to contain a handful of irrelevant sites (i mean totally irrelevant - not even on the topic) but if this means that they will eventually get cleaned up and I will move up to page 1, then hey... I'm happy!
I am amazed Yahoo don't make more of Google's Big Daddy disaster. It's pathetic really. An opportunity lost. Search engine prominence has a lot to do with perception of quality amongst users after all.
Please Y have a good look at your spam filters, your letting far too much crap in from the same domain and also especially spammers running small (easy to detect) link farms of almost identical crosslinked domains. Totally crazy, these puppies never ranked so well.
Some sites listed have been there for donkey-years and they're just static pages. I thot Yahoo! liked sites that are updated frequently?
Anyways... me thinks this is a good update because it proved to me that Yahoo! does NOT hand-code (or) hard-code the top ten of the category I'm in... most of the sites have been shuffled but hopefully, I will still be climbing up.
Interestingly enough, a site I own that was penalized in Yahoo for 'who knows what' has suddenly reappeared in the top 5 for most of the major keywords.
After emailing the Yahoo team, who told me my site does not conform, I didnt bother following up because I did not do anything to incur a penalty.
All of a sudden its back...go figure
We have sites that rank great in all three.
The majority of search traffic in every case is from Google 75%+, Yahoo 20%, MSN/Ask/Others 5%
However, despite the market share that Google holds (for now)imo its serps results are poor whilst Yahoos are very relevent. If Google were churning out the serps results now back when they started out they wouldnt have such a large market share now thats for certain. However, Yahoo COULD upstage them with these results. Yahoo serps results have come along way compared to how they were just one year ago.
As ive posted before, imo Yahoos results are now the best of all three search engines. They perhaps need to do more work on the three/four/five word string requests but on one or two words the results are superb, cant see how they can improve them.
In closing no search engine is going to please everyone but IMO at least Yahoo deliver relevent sites in relation to the search string.
Some Webmasters -- especially webmasters of commercial sites -- are always going to complain because the position of their own site radically affects their perceptions. Which isn't to say that webmasters can't also be more objective and even perceptive.
But I think you're right that what's going on right now is not the same-old same-old. Google used to be great. It almost seemed to be a psychic search engine. Now it's erratic and sometimes downright useless.
To avoid generalities, I challenge those of you who think that google is working just fine or has only minor problems to search for "build your own model T ford" (without quotes) in both Google and Yahoo. This is a randomnly chosen text string -- my own site is about meditation.
There's no spam in the Google results -- but also *no* relevant results in the top ten. Not one. You'll learn how to build your own fake segway, paper rocket, generator, or solar system -- but *nada* about model T fords.
Yahoo on the other hand? It puts relevant site in the #1 spot -- a site that isn't even in Google's top ten.