Two Months Without Google: Spotlight on Yahoo!
With February wrapped up, and DuckDuckGo sitting in the pond, it is time to move onto the next search engine in the cluster, Yahoo. Yahoo was founded in 1994 and launched in 1995, making it the oldest search engine in my test. From late 1999 when Yahoo took the #1 search engine rank from Alta Vista to late 2003 Yahoo reigned supreme. It was only until then that Google knocked Yahoo down and has remained the #1 search engine in the world since.
Yahoo is uniquely positioned among the four search engines I am looking at (Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Google) as it is and has been the only one to create content and not just curate and serve it. Yahoo news and its homepage is still a major player in web news and finance, this might be Yahoo’s legacy. Yahoo currently ranks as the second or third most popular search engine in the United States constantly swapping places with Bing. In 2017 most of Yahoo’s internet business was purchased by Verizon for $4.48 billion. Yahoo remains one of the most popular email service providers, offering the service starting around 1997, where Gmail, Google’s email client, has existed since 2004.
Right away Yahoo’s depiction of ads is very difficult to detect unless you are fairly vigilant. In Google there is an identifier next to every listing that is an ad, a little bold Ad that used to be green and more noticeable, but still noticeable. DuckDuckGo’s ads have the “Ad” after the title as well as a speech bubble next to a “Report Ad” link, making them stand out. In Yahoo’s results page all you see is “Ads related to:” with no identifiers next to individual ads. The only way to tell where the ads end is a small very light grey bar separating the organic results, but even then you would need to scroll to be able to see it. Because of this I was inadvertently clicking through mostly ads for the first week, with mostly frustrating results. On top of that the white space around the ads can also be clicked making it easier to accidentally click on something that you do not want to.
This did not change or slow down at all through the month, providing ever more frustrating results. This was increased anytime that I was conducting a search on a topic that might not have been rare but was me looking for a solution to a problem. In stead of finding an answer, something that I did not have a problem with in either Google or DuckDuckGo, I would just be hit with ads trying to sell me something. I would only begin to find answers on product forums or pages near the bottom of the first page or the second page of search results. I have in the past been looking for some very specific answers before causing me to dig into Google’s third and fourth pages, however, I always felt that I was not being led away from possible answers they just were never the answers to my questions. This led me to change my query and narrow down until I found what I was looking for. In Yahoo this process was so involved what I felt like should have only taken a couple minutes took much much longer.
Overall Yahoo felt clunky and old. After working with DuckDuckGo for a month with almost no search difference Yahoo was so much worse than I was expecting. I dreaded every search and when I made them I had to wade through the torrent of ads that made up the results page. While I would consider DuckDuckGo as a primary search engine I would not do the same for Yahoo. Moving into April I will be using Bing, Microsoft’s answer to the search market.