How Much Emphasis Should B2B Marketers Put in Yahoo Search?

Yahoo Search Market ShareEarlier this month, news broke that Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer had started initiatives to get the company back into building its own search technology. This sparked debate amongst industry thought leaders on whether Yahoo could still be a viable player in the search engine market, as detailed on Search Engine Roundtable.

For B2B Marketers, Yahoo simply has not been a source of important SEO emphasis for many years, even though we often talk about SEO for “the big three” (Google, Bing, and Yahoo). Yahoo search has always been a consistently low percentage performer for B2B sites we manage, and the Bing & Yahoo search deal made it even less of a focus. But Mayer’s news, coupled with recent trends in a few key client accounts, made me interested in digging deeper.

Yahoo search percentages for B2B websites we manage

Year Over Year Search PerformanceYahoo search has been relatively insignificant for KoMarketing specifically, accounting for a minuscule 0.5% of all traffic in January and not even in our top 20 referring sources. Yahoo organic search was actually down 40% year over year from January 2012. We’re having greater success developing quality referral traffic in social sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Facebook.

As it turns out, Yahoo search was down year over year in 4 out of every 5 Google Analytics profiles we have access to, this past January. Over 80% of the profiles we have access to have experienced year over year declines in Yahoo, averaging a 31% year over year drop across all profiles.

In comparison, Google search engine traffic was up 21% year over year on average and Bing up nearly 12% in that same time period.

The broader search engine market landscape

Search Market PercentagesBroader market metrics support the notion that Yahoo is a declining engine for marketers. Here is a snapshot of Yahoo’s declining market share across the past two years, courtesy of data pulled from comScore press releases.

Yahoo’s search market percentage has declined over 33% since the beginning of 2012, hovering dangerously close to single digits as we move further into 2014. The news is worse for B2B marketers. For sites we have had access to, only ONE Google Analytics profile experienced a double digit organic search referral percentage from Yahoo in 2012. Across all Google Analytics profiles, Yahoo search represented only 4% of organic search traffic in January.

Can Yahoo recover part of the search market? Perhaps through mobile search?

It seems like it will still be difficult for Yahoo to take hold of the mobile search landscape unless they radically disrupt mobile search or mobile app-based search. Apple products default to Safari, which usually uses Google Search. Android uses Chrome (and Google) and Windows phones default to Bing.

Combined, Android and Apple’s iOS have more than 95 percent of the global share of smartphone usage for the fourth quarter of 2013, as detailed by IDC via ZDNet. Yahoo would need to find a way to change search behavior on the mobile phone, to make a serious dent in the existing search marketing landscape via smartphone.

Bottom-line, while we’re disappointed in Yahoo organic search performance, we’re not too concerned. And while news that Marissa Mayer might be planning on rolling out new search technology is interesting, it doesn’t shift our focus from current SEO initiatives.

Google is and has always been our primary focus for B2B SEO, with Bing a distant second. After those two engines, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter come into play, followed by industry-specific publications and resources.

Assuming your Google Analytics metrics show similar percentages, it might be time to shift your B2B SEO focus as well (if you haven’t already).

“Having worked with multiple agencies, I can say KoMarketing is one of the best around. They truly feel like an extension of our own internal team. KoMarketing understands our business, our goals, and I appreciate that I don’t have to micromanage them. I would gladly recommend KoMarketing to any organization looking to drive real results through digital marketing.”

Rebecca Johnston-Gilbert' — Rebecca Johnston-Gilbert, Marketing, Postman

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