On September 26th, Yahoo announced that it will be shutting down several of its services, including Qwiki, Yahoo Education and the iconic Yahoo Directory. The service will officially close on December 31st, 2014.
The Yahoo Directory has existed for almost 20 years, and for a long time it was the preferred way of finding information online. It predates Google, and many people still view it as an important reminder of the days when the best way to search was to use curated directories.
Yahoo was launched in 1994 by two Stanford graduate students; David Filo and Jerry Yang. The first incarnation of the site was called “Jerry and David’s Guide to The World Wide Web”, and it was simply a list of useful websites. Yahoo grew in popularity very quickly, and had received more than one million hits within less than a year.
The Rise of Google
As Internet access became more commonplace and it became possible for anyone with an Internet connection to launch a blog or a website, it became clear that the human-curated directory option simply was not good enough for indexing the web. Several companies launched automated indexes, some of those search engines relied exclusively on meta tags, but Google broke new ground by working on more complex indexing techniques in a bid to create a high quality index.
Yahoo compromised by maintaining both a human-curated directory and a search engine. Today, Yahoo has partnered with Bing for its search results, and is maintaining other services too, including email and news.
The closure of Yahoo Directory is something that will sadden many long-term web users and SEO workers, but the directory itself has not been getting a lot of traffic and there is an entire generation of web users that most likely has no idea that it even exists.
The Future for Yahoo
Yahoo stated that it is sunsetting some of its legacy products so that it can focus on new projects and growing its existing operations. Yahoo is one of the “big three” search engines, but it is far behind Google and also has a smaller market share than its partner search engine, Bing. It is unlikely that the company will be able to dethrone Google in the general search market any time soon, but there is some opportunity for it to provide more focused search verticals. Perhaps that could be the answer?