Performance marketers and website owners who counted on Yahoo Site Explorer for backlink information will have to look elsewhere for that data. The long awaited move took place this week when Yahoo closed the service for good. The changeover to Bing’s algorithm is finished, and Yahoo Site Explorer has been combined with Bing Webmaster Tools.
Many online marketers looked to Yahoo Site Explorer for accurate backlink data, even when newer sites offered similar information. Site owners rely on that data as search engines like Google use backlinks and anchor text links to help determine which sites appear first in the search engine results pages.
The change will benefit services like SEOmoz or Ontolo that offer link information as part of their marketing mix. Free services like Blekko will see more customers seeking data to increase their page rank; and subsequent ability to charge more for ads.
Software like SEO Spyglass that relied on Yahoo Site Explorer have updated their service to pull data from alternative sources. In a client communication, SEO Spyglass said they were planning on the change about a month before the shutdown. Their in-house testing shows that links may even increase over the next few weeks.
While some will simply use Bing Webmaster Tools, there is concern whether Microsoft will release detailed link information. Yahoo’s Hermant Minocha, Product Manager of YSL, addressed those concerns, stating, “The Bing Webmaster Center team has been actively adding new features over the past few months, including detailed traffic statistics and a new inbound links feature. Microsoft is also committed to build analytic reports that include Yahoo search usage.”
The change is the latest ammunition for critics that believe Yahoo has lost its mojo and continues to struggle to find a unique position the marketplace. The company pumped billions into its search offering for years before they finally realized someone else could do the job better; hence the 10-year agreement with Microsoft.
Some market observers believe Yahoo is becoming more like the original version of Yahoo when it was founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo. At that time they did not believe they had the technology resources to offer a full-fledged search engine. They concentrated on the Yahoo Site Directory, outsourcing the search function to Alta Vista.
“When I went to work for Yahoo after they bought our startup in 1998, it felt like the center of the world,” said programmer and investor Paul Graham. “It was supposed to be the next big thing. It was supposed to be what Google turned out to be. What went wrong?”