What Can You Learn from Yahoo’s Shortcomings?

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As most of you probably know, Yahoo announced last week that they had ended their talks with Microsoft. Later the same day, Yahoo also announced that they had entered into a non-exclusive agreement with Google.

Goohoo

The agreement between Google and Yahoo allows Yahoo to display Google’s AdSense ads next to any search results that it chooses. The reasoning for this is that Google’s paid search results will better monetize Yahoo’s search results, thus increasing their overall revenue.

Although Yahoo’s CEO, Jerry Yang, assured the world in a blog post that this agreement will allow Yahoo “to innovate and compete aggressively with Google and others for ad dollars,” most intelligent bloggers seem to agree that while this may help Yahoo’s revenue in the short-term, it’s simply going to aid Google in their dominance of the search market over the long-term.

While Yahoo had their IPO eight years before Google, there is no question that Google is the most powerful player in the search market. To create something positive out of the position Yahoo has put itself into, here are a handful of lessons from Yahoo’s shortcomings that you can apply to your own projects:

Google Homepage


Yahoo Homepage

Less is more: In a time when people are trying to cram as many advertisements and social widgets onto their websites as possible, ensuring your website is clean and simple can actually give you a competitive advantage.

From an usability perspective, providing less clutter for your users to wade through will ensure that they can actually find what they want. This will leave them with a positive impression of your website, and will greatly increase the odds that they will return in the future.

Having a clean and simple website layout also has direct SEO benefits. Not only will you decrease the chance of your website being deindexed because of technical problems with a search engine’s crawlers, but it is also much easier to gain links to a simple website than one that is full of advertisments and other clutter.

Focus on being the best at one thing: From the very beginning, Google has focused on being the internet’s best search engine. In Yahoo’s case, although they began as a search engine, after a few years they decided to become a website portal. Because they spread their resources across too many areas, they have no been able to keep up with Google in the area of search.

I think this point is especially important in local SEO. Before you start building links, you need to identify exactly what you want your website to accomplish. Whether it’s generating email leads, getting people to pick up the phone and call you, or increasing the amount of customers that walk through your door, you need to define a clear goal and then ensure that all of your online work supports that goal.

Jerry Yang

Avoid tunnel vision: Now that the finger pointing has begun, most people are attributing Yahoo’s problems to the fact that Jerry Yang wants to keep Yahoo independent, regardless of the consequences for the company or its shareholders.

As an SEO, it’s easy to get into a similar mindset. You may get to the point where you think that there is only one way to accomplish a specific goal. However, its important to avoid this tunnel vision and remain open to adapting new ideas and practices. If you refuse to do things other than the way you have always done them, it’s only a matter of time until your competitors (who embrace new approaches and methods) overtake your rankings!

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