Written by Mark Daoust
Consider Yahoo the first major casualty of the search engine wars. Yahoo has admitted that they cannot reasonably expect to take away any significant amount of the search market share from Google, so they have chosen to be happy as the second most visited search engine on the Internet. On the surface, this may seem strange. Why would Yahoo ever publicly announce that they are ‘throwing in the towel’ in the search engine war? That would be similar to Pepsi recommending that people drink their product only if Coca-Cola is not available. From a business standpoint, it is absolutely ridiculous and makes absolutely no sense.
But be careful to not read into this too far. Yahoo may have tipped their hat to Google as being dominant in the traditional search engine market, but this does not mean that they are giving up the fight for Internet users’ attention. In fact, for some time nÃ¶w, Yahoo has been moving towards a market which is quickly emerging as being just as powerful as search engines currently are.
Yahoo Moves to Web 2.0 Style Websites
In a few of the articles published hÃ«re at Site Reference we have mentioned Web 2.0 and how Yahoo seems to be following this development trend, but we have nevÃ«r looked into why Yahoo is so fascinated by Web 2.0.
As most of you probably know, Yahoo launched My Web 2.0, a public bookmarking service, along with acquiring Del.icio.us, a well-established public bookmarking service. Yahoo also launched Yahoo Answers, a service which relies on a community of users to answer questÃ¯ons that the same community asks.
There is a common trend with all of these services – they all rely on the input from a vast community. Del.icio.us works well because it relies on thousands of people deciding which websites are important rather than relying on one person’s (or one algorithm’s) opinion. This is the entire idea behind a folksonomy driven website – that when enough votes are tallied, the general public will decide which websites are important to specific topics, and which websites are not worth taking the time to bookmark.
An Alternative to Search Engines
Search engines provide a very simple service: they unite web users with a website that matches their current interest. It just so happens, however, that services like My Web 2.0 and Del.icio.us (public bookmarking services) have the ability to do the exact same thing – and possibly in a more effective and timely manner.
Suppose you want to find new resources for SEO. You could spend your time using the keyword “SEO” in Google in a regular web search, but the results for such a competitive term tend to remain fairly static over time. An alternative would be to look at what people are tagging as “SEO” at a service like Del.ico.us. HÃ«re you are presented with an entirely new list of pages that are (for the most part) relevant to what you are looking for, and are certainly filled with fresh, up-to-date information.
The information at a public bookmarking service is not necessarily always going to be the most complete, but it is the information that web users, as a collective unit, have determined to be worth visiting. In this way, public bookmarking services are more effective than search engines in filtering out which content is important, and which content is not worth reading (or even outright spam).
Add the fact that these results are available in RSS fÃ¶rm and you suddenly can be presented with the hottest information on your topic that the web has to offer. I personally subscribe to feeds that look at “Google”, “Yahoo”, “SEO”, and other topics that are relevant for my day to day life.
Obviously public bookmarking is not evolved enough for every industry. As it stands nÃ¶w, most of the quality information that you can get through a service like Del.icio.us relates to more technical fields, such as programming or photography. But as more people bookmark their favorite sites, the more a service like Del.icio.us will grow useful.
What Does This Have To Do With Yahoo! – And How Does It Help Me?
Traditionally, when there is a market that is worth exploring for traffÃ¯c, Yahoo! has been there. When Hotmail was released, Yahoo answered with their email program. When Monster.com became popular, Yahoo acquired HotJobs. With every major traffÃ¯c generating innovation, Yahoo seems to get involved.
This raises the question – if Yahoo is content with remaining in second place in the search market, and at the same time being active in the Web 2.0 market by buying social bookmarking sites, launching their own social bookmarking service, launching Yahoo! Answers, etc., shouldn’t we as website owners look to these services as a way to promote our businesses?
Everyone knows that you should optimize your website for the search engines, but how many people take the time to optimize their websites for bookmarking services? Not very many people consider trying to work their way up to the top of these websites, but they are actually missing out on a significant source of traffÃ¯c.
Darren Rowse of ProBlogger talked about how much traffÃ¯c he received from getting to the front page of Del.ico.us. In the end, he saw 8,000 visitors in one day from that front page exposure and garnered a number of external links from it as well. Imagine just how much traffÃ¯c a website could receive by constantly being near the top on a website like Del.ico.us.
Getting to the top of public bookmarking sites is not easy (just as SEO is not easy), but the reward is significant. Unlike SEO, getting to the top of a public bookmarking service is truly a viral way of marketing your website. Not only will you receive the benefit of being exposed in a very public place, but those who have put you there will talk about your website on their sites, and grow your business virally.
Who knows – public bookmarking may just overtake traditional search as a source for your traffÃ¯c.