SES Day 2: "Big News From Yahoo!"
March 1, 2005. New York, NY. Day two starts with a BANG! The founder of Yahoo!, Jerry Yang, was on hand to deliver the keynote presentation, which was formatted “Dr. Phil style” as a question and answer session with the conference organizer Danny Sullivan. Danny started off by delivering a huge cake celebrating Yahoo’s 10 birthday, and after Jerry pointed out that being 10 in this sector is like being 80 in dog years, Danny began with his Q&A.
(All questions and answers are paraphrased)
Danny Sullivan: How does Yahoo! constantly come up with new ideas?
Jerry Yang: Ever since the inception of Y!, there has been legitimate competition. The competition helped them to define the market and find ways to appeal to users. There continues to be a tremendous amount of innovation in our industry. One recent trend is that of search moving more towards verticals that offer highly relevant results in certain fields.
DS: What are some other recent innovations by Yahoo?
JY: Just in the search area, we have seen many, including desktop search, local search and our new Y!Q product. Y!Q allows users to do a content search of a page while reading it that will return sites with similar content. Many activities are headed towards providing more advanced search capabilities to all Yahoo! users.
DS: Yahoo! Also announced that it is changing the name of its recently purchased Overture to “Yahoo Search marketing Solutions.” Please comment.
JY: We are developing a newer algorithm for our “organic” search, so we are positioning Yahoo to be the source for all types of search, paid or organic. By having added a known and trusted quantity such as Overture to our suite of products, we feel that Yahoo will further position itself as the leader in search.
(The rest of this will simply highlight Jerry’s comments, which were artfully drawn out by Danny.)
Next, Mr. Yang announced something that many developers throughout the world have been hoping for: the addition of an API accessible to developers and web marketers. Companies will be able to develop search like applications (TOOLS!) using this API. In turn, Yahoo also hopes to receive feedback from developers and marketers regarding the results and information gleaned from the use of the API. Mr. Yang then further explained the Y!Q product, and shifted into a discussion about the variety of ways that Yahoo plans to increase its community’s overall Yahoo experience.
Yahoo’s goal is to help all kinds of people in its community, from bloggers to fantasy sports players to email users and most importantly: to searchers. It is Yahoo’s mission to provide more and more useful products for its visitors. Mr. Yang said the main goal is to continue to revolve around users and their various needs. Yahoo hopes to be able to blend user experiences in a way that creates a seamless and natural Internet lifestyle, forging a sort of networked effect.
Danny Sullivan ended with a classic question: “If Mr. Yang could waive a magic wand, what would be his wish for the future?” Mr. Yang responded that he hopes that the next ten years of Yahoo’s existence would be highlighted by user-centric growth. In turn, users would achieve a sort of “My Media” type of experience that would allow them to simply login to their Yahoo account to be “online” as never before described.
After the keynote presentation, I attended a couple of sessions and also volunteered to help out at the SEMPO booth. I also briefly visited some of the companies that had booth space. The two sessions I attended included the “Indexing Summit” and “Branding Tactics for Search.” The indexing summit was moderated by Danny Sullivan and highlighted the power that the SEO/SEM industry can have in helping to create change and updates within search engine’s practices, in this case mostly dealing with the power that blog links have had in the recent past.
Last week, representatives from Yahoo!, Google, MSN, and AskJeeves met with each other to discuss the recent adoption of the <nofollow> attribute now being used by search engines to help combat “blog spam.” Matt Cutts of Google explained that they had the idea of creating this attribute with the intention of using it to command a search engine crawler to index but not follow a link placed within the <nofollow>. The impetus for this creation was the large amount of people that were using blogs to artificially inflate their link popularity. Mr. Cutts showed an example of a link to a Viagra site within a blog about a small town in New Mexico.
When Google first had this idea, they approached all the major developers of blog software as well as the other search engines and, “to his surprise,” everyone agreed it would work. It is now W3C compliant and in use on many blogs, and has essentially destroyed the effectiveness of blog spamming. Not to be outdone, Yahoo has its own in depth proposal that they presented to the industry panel last week. Without getting too far into specifics, yahoo proposes using the following type of tag at a section level: <div class= ‘content-public’> “(content here) </div>. Also proposed were a similar tag called “content-nav,” and link-level tags with essentially the same names. The point of all these tags will be to help a website owner differentiate “trusted” content provided by the website from “open” content provided by a poster to a board, blog, or forum.
Kaushal Kurapati from AskJeeves also spoke, adding that they are very anxious to help crawlers be more efficient. Lastly, Eyton Seidman from MSN provided some more supporting statements regarding this movement towards helping avoid non-meriting sites from being highly indexed.
Lastly, I will briefly discuss the “Branding Tactics for Search” session, also moderated by Danny Sullivan. First up on the panel was Bill Hunt, a former marine who has been in the SEM industry for some time and has a company that provides services to IBM. He went over some interesting statistics regarding the percentage of people that can recall a brand from an internet search. Apparently over 60% of those surveyed could, as opposed to much lower percentages from people that were exposed to banner ads or other advertising. He went on to describe how it is important to leverage search at a variety of key decision points. As someone mentioned earlier this week, it is more desirable to be the last site someone clicks on than the first, in many cases.
The session continued with Mike Moran from IBM discussing some of the issues that he and Bill has tackled during the development of their paid search campaign-which was to emphasize branding. He described an interesting method of buying popular product or service related keywords in order to push a new brand. The theory was that if IBM wanted people to start searching for “On Demand,” they would have to use it in the tiles and descriptions of already popular keywords such as “business transformation” and “product lifecycle management.” The idea worked.
The next speaker, Harrison Mangun, described how most marketers “manage search as a direct response metric, and not as a part of branding.” In his opinion, this needs to change. However some problems exist with mingling data from different branding efforts that may make it difficult to measure the success. It could be hard to manage the compilation of data from different mediums. The last speaker was Cheryle Pingel, who gave an outstanding case study regarding her company’s (Range Online International) success with the branding efforts of Toshiba.
Tuesday night, Yahoo! will be throwing a tenth birthday party and I’ve got an invitation! The day 3 recap will focus on trends at this conference as well as an overview of exhibitors. Chris Boggs
See Day One Recap.
See Day Three Recap.