According to a Nielsen//Netratings study, Google holds the top spot for search engine destinations. However, if you take a closer look at N//N’s findings, you see that Yahoo and MSN share the second and third positions, respectively. Because MSN search is still using Overture to serve their search results more people are vicariously using the Yahoo method of search than they do Google.
To most in the search industry, it is common knowledge that Google values “off-page” optimization (backlinks, in-bound links), while Yahoo seems to prefer on-page optimization (title tags, keyword density). Although there are some indications that Yahoo is placing more value on links.
“Time was – and it was quite some time – Google was the best place to do most any search. The kind of people who send spam to our Inboxes quickly realized that sending spam to our search results was even better.
[In this regard,] Google’s reaction [has been similar to] email networks trying to filter out virus messages. For several months earlier this year, they were filtering out more legitimate emails with attachments than viruses? If you want to see all of the best results, you’ll need to get a second opinion. In your case, it’s Yahoo.”
Several forum participants share Strike’s opinion with comments like; “Google is slowly dropping the ball” and “I agree that Google is not the same it used to be”.
Yahoo’s results didn’t necessarily receive the highest marks either. On ihelpyou, moderator Chrishirst said, “IMO, Yahoo results seem to be more about the $$$ than relevancy and notably the same site doesn’t even appear in the first couple of hundred results at Google.” If you take a quick scan of the SEO forums, the Yahoo categories are littered with topics like, “I’ve just lost all my Yahoo listings. Please help.” These situations indicate that each engine still has some growing pains to work through
To be fair, Google results aren’t the only ones being taken to task. In a post on WebmasterWorld, Isitreal offered a scathing evaluation of search engine users, “Who uses Yahoo/MSN? People who don’t change their default browser search settings. IE is set to MSN. Yahoo website users [use Yahoo search], and that portal [has] heavy traffic? People who know nothing about search engines, and just what they’re used to.”
Another poster on WebProWorld defends Google, saying, “Until MSN and Yahoo can update their results daily (like Google does) they will not compare to the big G.” However, the point made about results updating is disputed in the HighRankings forum, where Semko says, “Yahoo search results are very dynamic, they get updated nearly every second, as tons of info are constantly added to Yahoo.” The truth undoubtedly lies somewhere in between.
With the increased search engine bot activity Google and Yahoo may be trying to streamline their indexes in order to root out spam and provide more relevant results. In the end, it comes down to preference. The search engine gives you the results you are looking for, no matter your level of experience, is likely to be the one you use.