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Danny Wong

Danny Wong

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How Yahoo Can Save Itself

Posted: 03/24/11 01:00 PM ET

After being seen as a repeated failure of a company over the past couple years, Yahoo may just yet redeem itself with its latest search engine update, Search Direct. While this reminds most Google users of one of the latest and biggest Google updates, Google Instant, with its real-time results as you type, Search Direct is less about helping you find the most relevant links for your search query and much more about giving you the appropriate answer, right then and there, to what you are searching for, because the fact is, we all search to ultimately find an answer, information about the thing we're searching for. This is actually quite an exciting update to Yahoo's search index, which I first heard about after Anthony Ha reported it on VentureBeat.

This advancement in the usability of search engines is incredible. It was first thought that the Google Instant update was exciting because it eliminated the use of having to hit the search button to perform your search query. But now, you don't even need to click the first link in the results page to get the answers you want to the most common of queries, easily finding out things like the local weather forecast, stock performance, even where to find a local theatre playing the films you want.

Yahoo has been seen as dying for several reasons:

1. It's becoming less innovative in the search game.

Yahoo hasn't done anything exciting with its search algorithm in a while, and while Bing is gaining popularity amongst shoppers and media consumers, Google reigns king because it continues to deliver the best search results, despite some of the bad press it's received as of late in terms of spammers compromising their search quality.

2. It's becoming less prominent a company.

With less big acquisitions, Yahoo doesn't have prominence like Google who's snatching every hot business up both for branding and for profit purposes. No one thinks about Yahoo much anymore because Yahoo's not doing much of anything that's interesting, or applicable to our everyday lives. I've even stopped using my Yahoo mail for the most part, and use two Gmail accounts, one for personal use and one for professional use.

3. As a media company, they're not doing anything special.

AOL is getting most of the spotlight these days as the big media company to end all media companies, especially with its recent merger with the Huffington Post to house all of its media properties under the Huffington Post. Yahoo just continues to aggregate content from the newswire and isn't doing enough news publishing itself.

What Yahoo can do now to save itself:

1. Actually make Search Direct awesome.

While the concept of Search Direct is amazing, and they have rolled out their public beta for the system, I'm sure there's a lot more to do in updating their algorithms and ensuring that quality answers are always provided for search queries that could easily be answered and immediately displayed without searchers having to click a search results link to find the answer they are looking for.

2. Get back on the media's good side.

Yahoo should be doing more amazing things as a company, and should also be creating more value for users. As such a large company, the media will always bite at anything special going on with Yahoo, so as long as Yahoo is continually building better products for users, it'll get better press and more people will begin to trust and use Yahoo again.

3. Become an integral part of users' lives.

While Yahoo failed in making Delicious their Yahoo owned service that everyone used and associated Yahoo with, Yahoo can acquire similar companies, or perhaps build its own products and services that millions of users will use each and every day, solidifying its place in users' daily lives.

Yahoo has a long way to go before it redeems itself again as the golden company it once was, but luckily, it's far from dying anytime soon, so we'll just have to wait and see how Yahoo develops.

Danny Wong is a Boston-area entrepreneur running Blank Label Group, which powers the startups Blank Label, Thread Tradition and RE:custom. Danny also blogs at TheNextWeb and ReadWriteWeb.

 

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