Dear Mr. Thompson,
I'm totally an “Internet person”, I am really living in the "network of networks". I am surfing 3-6 hours a day.
And for finding content of course you need search-engines. Especially here in Europe “search-engines” almost always means “search-engine”, namely Google.
Even to you as Yahoo CEO, I frankly say that I like Google and I believe it is currently the best search engine. Market shares of 90% or more, as Google has in Europe, I find, however, highly questionable.
Searching the Internet is simply too important to be left to a de-facto-monopolist.
And the only real alternative to Google in my home country Austria currently is Yahoo.
Only these two-search engines are “full-range-traders” and provide all the important features that advanced users expect from a search-engine:
Web search, news search, image search, video search, search for websites in German language, search for websites from Austria and more.
Yahoo already does not make a bad job in this. However, also not really a good one.
Yahoo’s basis as a search engine, especially in Austria, is really good. What Yahoo makes out of this unfortunately is just poor.
What I mean by that, I will explain by means of several examples:
- Yahoo has a customized version of its search-engine for Austria. But this version is so well "hidden", that barely any user will ever find it - and therefore nearly no one is using it.
If you go to www.yahoo.at then you come to the login page of your personal Yahoo account. Above the login-fields there is a very small logo "Yahoo! Austria " and if you click on this, then you come to the search engine.
The direct URL of the engine is at.search.yahoo.com.
How can a search-engine-provider put such huge obstacles into a users way?
If you want to use Google’s search in Austria, then you simply enter www.google.at.
- Directly related to point 1:
The Yahoo-Austria-search hardly reaches any user also because it’s not possible using it via the integrated browser-search-form, i.e. in Firefox.
In the German-language version of Firefox the Yahoo-search is processed via Yahoo Germany (de.search.yahoo.com).
When searching in FF browser with Google, then you directly come to Google’s Austrian search. I suppose the search-request is being redirected to the users country of origin according to the IP-address.
- In relation to points 1 and 2:
I have an online store and am also operating several commercial and non-commercial websites.
I know Yahoo search-marketing and I am still using it. However via this channel you can only reach a tiny number of people.
Because: Apart from the fact that Yahoo in Austria has a market share of perhaps 1%, most search-requests – as described – are not running over Yahoo-Austria but over Yahoo-Germany.
And how can an advertiser realize reasonable geographic targeting, if he can’t reach most of the audience - even though from the technical point of view it were possible very easily?
- Beyond Austria-specific criticisms, there are also general weak-points.
Among them is the limited filtering-option for date.
With Google you can limit a search to results from the last 24 hours, from last week, from last month, from last year and furthermore a user can customize the period of time. At Yahoo a limitation to the last year and a user-defined setting is not possible.
- And moreover, there are still further, although less critical issues to improve:
-) With indexing of certain websites the Microsoft crawler has massive problems. This is affecting Bing as negative as Yahoo. Again Google makes it indexing most of these websites properly.
-) The use of Boolean operators for complex searches also does not work optimal at Yahoo.
-) And searching specific URLs or browsing certain web pages often delivers poorer or no results compared to Google.
A Google market share of slightly under 100% in Austrian search-engine-market let’s all my alarm bells ring. Such a dominance calls for exploiting this dominant position one day.
Both as user and as advertiser I really hope having 1 or more serious 2-3 alternatives to the overwhelming giant Google in future. From a market situation as you have it in the U.S., where Google "only" has a market share of 66%, we can only dream of in Europe.
Yahoo, as already mentioned, in terms of functionality is the only true competitor to Google. And Yahoo is simply appealing to me.
Apart from all criticism mentioned here, there are several specific new points beyond searching that Yahoo has done well in recent years:
Spontaneously to my mind are coming Yahoo Answers, the currency converter or the weather service.
I sincerely hope that Yahoo manages the turnaround and extends its market share.
That would make the users, the advertisers and of course your company very happy.
Just see my letter as free-consulting from a user to you.
Beyond the content mentioned here, I have some specific ideas how to reawaken the user’s ethusiasm with the right innovations.
If you want to I would like to give you more detailed information.
Good luck and best regards,