When internet marketers pop their champagne bottles on New Years eve to say goodbye to 2014, they will also be saying so long to old institution of the internet. For nearly two decades, consumers and marketers have used the Yahoo Directory to help promote and find new websites. Yahoo recently announced that they will be shutting down the Yahoo Directory on December 31st.
For those who are unfamiliar with the service, the Yahoo Directory served as a sort of Yellow Pages of the internet. Website owner would submit their site to a category in the directory that described the content and purpose of the site. The sites would be reviewed and then placed in the appropriate part of the directory. It made for an easy way to find sites back when search engines weren’t as robust as they are now.
However, a relatively small number of people still use directories to find websites. And due to abuse of directories as a link building tool, search engines don’t give directories the weight they used to. And in some cases, being in a directory or network that Google thinks is illegitimate, can lead to an SEO penalty. So while seeing the Yahoo Directory go is a little bittersweet, it had more or less lived out its usefulness.
In the blog post announcing the shut down, Yahoo gave few details about their reasoning or what would come next. Though they did seek to reassure advertisers who used the Yahoo Directory for ads would be rolled into their next new program.
“Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet,” wrote Jay Rossiter, the SVP of the Cloud Platform Group at Yahoo in the blog post announcing the changes. “While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly.”
The one paragraph send off for one of the early institutions of the internet seems odd and possibly a missed opportunity for Yahoo. Shutting down the Yahoo Directory would’ve been the perfect time to generate buzz for the new service that advertisers will be upgraded to in the future. Yahoo Directory wasn’t alone in the quiet send off. The same post announced the closure of the Yahoo Education and Qwiki.
Yahoo tried to put a positive spin on the shutdowns by trying to show how they were part of a growing and changing company.
Jay Rossiter began the post by saying, “At Yahoo, focus is an important part of accomplishing our mission: to make the world’s daily habits more entertaining and inspiring. To achieve this focus, we have sunset more than 60 products and services over the past two years, and redirected those resources toward products that our users care most about and are aligned with our vision. With even more smart, innovative Yahoos focused on our core products – search, communications, digital magazines, and video – we can deliver the best for our users.”
The end of Yahoo Directory is certainly not a high point for the company, but in the ever-changing world of internet search, it’s important for companies to grow with the times. Even Google had to recently end their Authorship program, so no company is immune.
Though they were sparse on the details, the demise of the Yahoo Directory may be the start of something new and bigger for the company. Since there are a few months left before their new program needs to be ready (if it will begin when Yahoo Directory ends), marketers should keep an ear to the ground for more announcements.
In the meantime, read this article from our site with seven recent stats that show Yahoo is still relevant. Also, read this article to check out Yahoo’s current standings in the US search rankings.