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Yahoo will be killing the Overture brand name early in the second quarter as it moves to merge all its search services under the same banner. Yahoo also announced the beta version of the Yahoo Developer Network, an Application Program Interface (API) allowing search marketers and software developers to build Yahoo into search related tools they use or create.

Soon to be known as Yahoo! Search Marketing Services, (or likely, Yahoo for short), the re-branding announcement brings Yahoo’s advertising and search divisions together under the same name. The opening of Yahoo Developer Network signifies Yahoo’s commitment to competing with Google by allowing software developers and search marketers the ability to build time saving tools around the Yahoo! Search Marketing Service. The announcements coincide with Yahoo’s tenth birthday and day two of the mammoth Search Engine Strategies Conference currently underway in New York City.

Overture was the original pay per click search tool when it launched in June 1998 under the name After hiring Ted Meisel as president of Overture later that year, the company successfully marketed the phrase “pay-for-performance” sparking the genesis of today’s powerful contextual distribution business model. The company thrived over the next few years, changing its name in late 2001, weeks before announcing its first partnership with Yahoo in November. After a year of rapid growth in 2002, Overture acquired Alta Vista and the search unit of FAST, AlltheWeb in February 2003. In early October 2003, Yahoo purchased Overture and its stable of search technologies, reclaiming its role as a serious contender in the business of search.

Yahoo will be phasing out the name Overture early in the next quarter in the US. After the re-branding effort is complete in the States, it will move to re-brand in international markets with the exception of Japan and South Korea where the Overture name will be maintained.

Advertisers should not see any major changes in policy stemming from this move. It is being done mostly to alleviate confusion between the various brands owned by Yahoo!, and to allow for better internal coordination between product units. If anything, advertisers and search marketers will save time as Yahoo’s core services will be accessible from the same page.

Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions will offer the following services in one suite:

  • Sponsored Search Listings, the flagship search advertising product
  • Content Match, Yahoo!’s contextual advertising listings
  • Local Match, Yahoo!’s local sponsored search offering
  • Site Match, Self Serve and Site Match Xchange, Yahoo!’s search URL submission products
  • Yahoo! Product Submit, the Yahoo! Shopping URL submission program
  • Yahoo! Express, the Yahoo! Directory URL submission program
  • Marketing Console, which enables advertisers to track campaign performance across multiple online channels
  • Search Optimizer, which allows advertisers to improve their campaign performance and reduce the amount of time spent managing their listings

“Our mission is to be essential to marketers of all types around the world,” said Ted Meisel, who is also Senior Vice President, Yahoo! Inc. in a press release “Unifying all of our search marketing and related products under one banner and one common approach reflects our commitment to integrate and simplify online advertising, allowing businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the Yahoo! search marketing solutions that best fit their marketing goals.”

Accompanying the re-branding announcement was the opening of the Yahoo! Developers Network API. Search is recognized as being the essential web-tool. Everything from weather information to airline tickets are found via search tools of one sort or another. Like its rivals, Yahoo offers several types of search tools such as images, maps, news, and video on top of general website search. By opening its own API, Yahoo is inviting web developers to build Yahoo search services directly into the products they create. For example, a Star Trek Enterprise fan-site could build a Yahoo powered search tool that finds video relating to quotes about the series. Similarly, a Phoenix Suns fan could create an on-site application that calls video clips of the brilliant point-guard Steve Nash. Marketers can build tools tracking specific campaigns and smaller search tools can combine their look and feel with Yahoo’s massive database to produce industry-specific results (vertical search) for unique business sectors.

Yahoo’s hard work to rebuild its brand strength against Google is slowly paying off with rises in market share and customer loyalty. By clearing up confusion between the brand names Overture and Yahoo and opening the hood to allow users to create their own versions of core products, Yahoo has given web searchers and marketers the gifts of clarity and empowerment. Ultimately it has given itself a gift of greater presence. Happy Birthday Yahoo!. Here’s to another ten years.

Search engine watch has printed December 2004 stats from comScore Media Metrix detailing the market share of the major search engines going into the new year.

Google continues to dominate, generating 48% of all search results either directly or by providing results to smaller search firms such as the Excite Network. Yahoo follows a distant second with 32%. The pre-proprietary MSN came in third with 16% with Ask following fourth at 2%. Read more…

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005

Why am I still using Google?

When Yahoo dropped Google results in favor of its own Inktomi generated listings, the search world expected Yahoo to gain some ground in market share. While this did in fact happen, the increase was relatively insignificant, and Google remained on top. Now that MSN has released its own search technology and no longer relies on Inktomi based results, will they see a significant increase in users?

My personal opinion is no. Sure their market share may increase, but I doubt, in the short term anyways, that they will make any significant increases to overtake Google. I’ll use myself as an example. I personally look at search results across the big three on a daily basis across a wide range of industries. In my opinion (and I am sure many SEO’s and webmasters will back me up on this) MSN now provides better, more accurate and relevant search results. That being said, I still use Google for my personal searching.

Whether I am at home, or in the office, Google is my search engine of choice. My wife uses Google, most of my friends and family use Google, and lets face it, the majority of searchers worldwide use Google. So why, if MSN is providing better results, do I still revert back to Google, knowing that I will most likely have to filter through a bunch of rubbish.

I think this is due to a number of factors. For years now I’ve been using Google, dating back to before I entered this industry, at a time when Google was providing relevant results. So a big part of this is habit. My fingers automatically type whether I like it or not. My default home page is set to Google. The only toolbar I have installed is the Google toolbar. This began for the checking of Page Rank, but now I use it almost exclusively for its search field.

Even though I know MSN provides better results (in most cases) I still use Google. This makes me think that the general public, many of which are unaware that MSN has changed, will also stick with Google. Behavior patterns are hard to break – although a month late, perhaps I will make it my new years resolution to stop using Google.

Part of the draw to use Google is the cleanliness of the site. Even though MSN has released, along with its new results, a new look and feel, it may still seem too cluttered, and many times slow loading, for users looking to simply perform a basic search.

The general searching public likely doesn’t realize that results from one engine are more relevant than that from another, or that the results generated in MSN were once duplicates of what you would find in Yahoo. Many tend to stick with what they know – they’ve always used Google, and as they haven’t “shopped around” so to speak, don’t realize that the other engines may have more to offer. Old habits are hard to break – and until such a time as a “quit Google patch” is invented, many may be there to stay.

Why is it that when one search engine does something, every other search engine jumps on the bandwagon? From the introduction of similar new products and features to the coincidental timing of product introductions, the major search engines frequently tend to trip over each other’s feet. This tendency is getting mention in the mainstream media with an article from tech-writer Seth Hansell in today’s New York Times noting “Search Sites Play a Game of Constant Catch-Up“. Read more…

The search engine marketplace underwent a number of changes in 2004 with the number of independent sources nearly tripling by year’s end. Twelve months ago, Google was the dominant search tool feeding information to almost every other popular search engine in one way or another, including its biggest rivals Yahoo and MSN. Going into 2005, Google still dominates the search engine market but the world’s most popular search tool has lost a great deal of ground to its former bedfellows. Yahoo introduced its own algorithmic search engine early last spring followed by MSN’s beta release of their own search tool in the autumn. Over the span of one year, Google’s control of organic results dropped from approximately 76% to the 45% share it owns today. Read more…

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

2005 Predictions – Watershed Ground

Three weeks ago we promised our predictions for the coming year. Here they are. Please remember, we are techno-geeks, not psychics. Some of these predictions may come true and some may be way off base. We do know the search industry is evolving faster than ever before. What seems fantasy today may well be reality next month. 2004 was an interesting year in the business of search, setting the stage for what should be a watershed year in 2005. Read more…

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

2004 – A Year of Search in Review

This is the last edition of the StepForth Weekly News for 2004, making this the perfect time to write a retrospective before moving into the new year. The past year will be remembered as the most interesting year in the history of search, that is until this time next year. 2004 witnessed the end of the search engine cold-war and the beginning of what is likely to be an intense rivalry between Google and MSN. It also showed a clear demarcation between who’s hot and who’s not in the business of search. Read more…

Innovation in the world of search seems to come in waves with the major search engine firms appearing to follow each other’s lead in the development of new products, tools and services. Witness today’s introduction of a desktop search/toolbar by MSN. Search engines are standardizing their services around the basic business model of contextual ad delivery and introducing new products and features designed to win the loyalty of new users and retain the loyalty of old ones. The past year has been one of the most expansive and interesting in the world of search since day one. Two major trends, personalization and localization, combined with the competitive necessity to gain users and advertisers provided the foundation for development of desktop search applications and the immense number of toolbars available now. The goal of all major search firms is to offer results that are relevant to an individual searchers’ profile in the least steps possible. User adoption of toolbars and desktop search are major steps in accomplishing that goal. Read more…

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Yahoo's Spider Slurp

How to write for Slurp the spider

As the world’s second most popular search tool, Yahoo moves a tremendous amount of traffic and is a very credible alternative to Google. Yahoo receives over 2.76 billion page views per day from hundreds of millions of unique users. It boasts over 157 million registered users enjoying mail, shopping and discussion groups and an increasingly personalized search and news services. For the past two years, Yahoo, Google and MSN have been embroiled in a hard-fought battle for the loyalty of search engine users forcing all three firms into the hyper-evolution we are witnessing today. Over the next three Wednesdays we are going to examine how the Big-3 spiders work, what they look for and how to best prepare your sites for multiple visits from the bots that rank them. Today, we are starting with Yahoo’s bot, SLURP. Read more…

I love New York City. More than any other city on the planet, New York is exciting, expansive and always interesting. As Earth’s unofficial capital city New York is home to many of the world’s largest entities, some even bigger than Donald Trump’s ego. No other city has captured the world’s imagination or harnessed its wealth to the degree of NYC. New York is also the home of over8-million people. As one of the most multicultural cities, every cultural group in the world is represented within its 301 square mile area. New Yorkers aren’t just city-folk, they define what is hip in urban living in the early part of this century. Unlike their counterparts in cities like LA, Rome or Tokyo, New Yorkers don’t fall for fads, set trends, or get giddy over the next new thing, ever. They are one of the most jaded and cynical populations and in their East Coast way, take great pride in their worldliness. That’s what makes them the perfect test market for Yahoo’s local-search engine. Read more…