Recently Yahoo! announced that they had more traffic than Google over the same period. Some news reports are attributing this to new Yahoo! CEO, Melissa Myers, and her efforts to increase the overall appeal across many different segments.
I’m skeptical that the traffic is higher. In fact I am 50/50 on it. But… even if it is, what does that mean for Yahoo!? I’m certain it means more revenue, because advertisers will begin to flock over to that platform to gain reach for their brand, but will buyers go there?
There are a few questions I have about how Yahoo! is calculating their traffic statistics. As an example, Google and Yahoo! both offer email service. But Google’s email service is accessed via gmail.com. Yahoo!’s is accessed via their homepage. Another way to manipulate the numbers? If Google factored into their calculations all the traffic that went to gmail.com, would Yahoo! still have more traffic?
In addition, Google Chrome is the most widely used web browser, and it features built-in Google Search functionality in the URL bar at the top of the screen. Without having to visit the homepage first before you can start searching, Google may be cutting down on a lot of their traffic (and bandwidth!) in the name of efficiency. This could be another factor for lower traffic statistics.
In terms of web searches, it has long been thought that people use Yahoo! and Bing primarily because they are the default settings on new computers and in new browsers, thanks to strategic corporate partnerships between computer hardware and computer software organizations. Bing, for example, is set as the homepage when you buy a Microsoft computer. Yahoo! uses software agreements to set your homepage when you install antivirus, as another example. If you fail to uncheck the box during installation, their toolbar gets installed in your browser and they change your default homepage.
In comparison, Google has long been perceived as the shopping engine. When someone wants to buy, they go to Google. The question is, will that perception begin to change? If you look at Yahoo!’s home page, it is full of news, ads, and a million calls to action. They are trying to appeal to everyone. Google, on the other hand, has a single search bar. They want the search user, that is very clear!
Often times I run into clients that use Bing or Yahoo! because it came pre-installed somehow, and they don’t know how to change it or don’t want to be bothered. Is this how you feel? What search engine do you use? Do you even care about which one you use? How do you decide? Let me know, I’d like to hear your thoughts!