It was a Wednesday. No, it was a Thursday. I must have missed the prompt when my attention jumped from my cracked iPad screen to the 56-14 routing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the Atlanta Falcons playing out on my television. It was a simple mistake that anyone with a late-’80s attention span and impatience for connectivity could make. With a touch of the screen, I set myself off on a secret adventure that would last for four days. This is a brief chronicle of my intense relationship with Yahoo!’s search engine.
Here we go.
According to the Fantasy Football Sports Trade Association, there are now 33 million unlucky people playing fantasy football each year. I’m one of those poor schlubs that put far too much time and self-worth into my two annual fantasy teams. I first decided to forgo more scholarly pursuits in 2009; a whole 10 years after Yahoo! entered the fantasy arena. Yahoo! was the preferred fantasy service of the league, and I dove in.
Flash forward five years and zero championships. Upon reaching the Yahoo! homepage, a prompt asked me if I “wished to make Yahoo! my default search engine” and in my haste, I clicked OK. Looking back, I’m glad. There, I said it. I had four wild days with Yahoo! and I don’t regret it (I’m sorry, Sergey. I feel like I let down a fellow Terp). Let me try to explain.
It’s the little things.
I don’t care that Yahoo! only has a 10% search query market share. I’m a simple man and I like different content thrown in my face. So why didn’t I hate using Yahoo!’s search? What about it appealed to me?
1. Local results.
I like pizza. You know that saying about bad pizza still being pizza? I tell people I came up with that saying. Neapolitan, deep-dish, BBQ chicken, Hawaiian; If it’s pizza, I’m there. I also liked to try different pizza joints in my area. You know what happens when I search pizzeria, pizza place, and pizza joint on Yahoo!? I get local pizzerias in my local area with an accompanying map and phone numbers. On Google, I get a couple organic ads (one for a pizza place 20 miles away and one for a math game), pizza news (which doesn’t put pizza in my mouth), and a knowledge graph with nutritional information.
2. Do not track.
In November, Mozilla Firefox announced it would replace Google with Yahoo! as its default search engine. As a part of their deal, Yahoo! agreed to support Firefox’s Do Not Track feature, allowing users to control the tracking of data by websites. As an Internet user, I love controlling what data is being collected on me. It gives me the power to eliminate poorly managed behavioral ads that hound me across the vast landscape of the Internet. As an online marketer myself, there’s always Google for that information.
3. It’s Saturday night!
This might seem like an arbitrary reason to like a search engine, but it’s my post and I’ll write arbitrary bullet points if it pleases me. In 2013, Yahoo! acquired exclusive access to the 40-year catalogue of Saturday Night Live content. Yahoo! has everything: Eddie Murphy as Gumby, Steve Martin performing King Tut, and Robert Goulet’s Coconut Bangers’ Ball. You can even see sketches from the terrible 1985 season when Robert Downey, Jr., and Anthony Michael Hall were cast members. Having grown up on SNL, I’ll spend hours watching the back catalog and knowing Yahoo! has it all is a nice thought.
4. That’s great video.
Yahoo puts a premium on video content. Imagine this: You’re in your kitchen and tomatillos begin magically falling from the ceiling. As the tomatillos fill the room, you perform a hurried search for “tomatillos” on Google and Yahoo! with the hope of discovering a video detailing how to prepare them. The search results on Google provide nutritional information, news articles, a few recipes, but no videos. On Yahoo!, there’s nutritional information, recipes, images, and, you guessed it—videos. Right there on the search results page. With your life now spared from being crushed by tomatillos, you sit back and marvel at the variety of content on a single search results page.
5. Extra! Extra! Read all about it.
Who wants to cull the Internet looking for in-depth reporting? Yahoo! News, the Internet news aggregator, is here to provide you with all the personalized information (and sometimes clickbait) you might need to pass the day. Utilizing RSS feeds to populate its stream, Yahoo! News is a cornucopia of time-wasting articles on sports, entertainment, and local features. The news isn’t of the highest quality, but neither am I, so I can’t judge.
Yahoo! is far from a perfect search engine. It relies on Bing to power its search results. It doesn’t have the same sheen as Google, but at least it’s in the fight. Though I did return to Google as my primary engine, I’m glad Yahoo! is there. It pushes other search engines to improve and refine their experiences. In a world of technological mergers and acquisitions, it’s good to know there’s still competition driving advancement.