Last week Yahoo! announced that they would no longer be using Google as the search engine for searches on any of the Yahoo sites (I’m dropping the ! from Yahoo for the rest of this article.) and would rely instead on their own Yahoo Search Technology.
Would search results be different on Yahoo than they would on Google? I started to run some test.
The first thing that I searched on was my full name as a phrase. Yahoo’s number one result pointed to an Amazon.com listing for one of the books I had written; my blog, The BugBlog, was the second choice. On Google, the number one listing was for the blog. When I repeated that search on Yahoo about four days later (as part of the prep work for this computer tip) the blog page had moved up to the top spot.
Doing the search on only my last name, the Amazon page was number one in Yahoo, but my blog page remained number one on Google. Why the blog page and not my company home page or my contact page? That’s because the blog page is chalking up many more links from others (thank you!) so it gets the top spot. Both search engines were consistent, however — I’m the most famous person with the last name Kratofil, not that there’s a lot of us.
Next, I wanted to see how some of my client’s web sites were positioned. I’m webmaster for the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), so I searched on the term “Business Economics”. The NABE site turned up in the first spot in Google. On Yahoo, they were also first, except that Yahoo lists their sponsor results first, in a format very similar to their regular listings, although they are marked “Sponsored Links.” So the site was actually the third one listed. Google has sponsored links, too, but they are treated differently — they are shoved over to the right, in a box with a tinted background, and clearly don’t look like the regular listings.
I searched on a number of different terms of interest, and didn’t see any big differences. If something was ranked high in one, it was ranked high on the others. So there’s no real difference between the two, or at least so I thought.
However, a couple of hours after my initial test, I noticed a difference somewhere else. I’ve set up a customized My Yahoo page that I use as the home page for my browser. I’ve spent some time customizing the various features that show up, and I’ve used the mailing address that comes with it as a backup email address if something ever goes wrong with my mail server. Anyway I noticed something at the top of my home page, about four or five hours after I did my first trial searches. There was a banner ad for one of my search terms at the top of my home page. It was an ad for “Business Economics” so it surely wasn’t a coincidence. A couple hours later, there was another ad for one of my terms.
So I guess if you are going to search for “Britney Spears nude” it’s best to do that at Google rather than Yahoo. Otherwise, you may have some explaining to do when someone looks at your Yahoo home page later.