Should Yahoo Cede Search? Yeah, When Pepsi Bottles Coke

Danny Sullivan on Search Marketing

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The "Yahoo should dump search" train has come around the track once again. Some say it makes perfect sense. Google's won search. Yahoo can't compete, so why not get out? Let Google serve up search results and ads and just take a percentage.

Seriously? A multibillion-dollar market, with Yahoo the strong No. 2, and it should get out? Maybe Pepsi should just license to bottle Coke. Perhaps Avis should give up the "We Try Harder" thing and concede to Hertz. What's Apple thinking building Macs -- clearly Microsoft won the personal-computer game ages ago!
Danny Sullivan
Photo: Jason Meyer
Danny Sullivan has been covering the search-marketing industry for more than a decade and is editor in chief of SearchEngineLand.com.

Sure, sure -- but what about the fact that for years Yahoo failed to mature the system it inherited? Last year's "Panama" upgrade was largely to match features at Google, which had surpassed Yahoo. Isn't that a sign that Yahoo was doing too little too late? Nope. That's a sign that Yahoo, despite its archaic system, had -- and still has -- the one feature Microsoft desperately wishes it could match: traffic.

Finally, Yahoo has a search brand. Before Google, Yahoo meant search in the minds of many. It remains strong today because that search brand remains strong. Outsource to Google, and there's really nothing left for the influencers to do in terms of recommending Yahoo. If you don't believe that, consider how few today search at AOL. It's a Google clone. It has no unique search voice; there's no compelling reason to go there if you're happy with Google.

Everyone wants to be No. 1, but being No. 2 in a ripe market is still a great business. I usually drink Coke, rent from Hertz and use a Windows PC. But sometimes I grab a Pepsi or book with Avis, and I own an iPod. And while I usually search with Google, I also use Yahoo -- as do many others.
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