We confess; we had no idea the Yahoo Directory was still around. If you’ll flash back a decade or so—if not more—you might recall a time when you perused Yahoo’s hand-picked, categorical results for sites to visit.
Perhaps you were interested in gardening, so you’d hit up Yahoo’s Directory to see just what sites it was recommending you should visit. Maybe you were a time-traveler from the future and just knew that Internet cats would be a huge thing, so you attempted to contribute as many sites as you could to the directory’s feline section.
Regardless, the growth of Google basically killed off Yahoo’s Directory in spirit. Who needs a human-curated list of websites, after all, when an automated crawler can scan through the raw text of all of these sites to ensure that people are matched up with the most relevant results for their query?
“With Yahoo, it was as if you were searching for books in a library using an old-fashioned card catalog system, where all you knew about a book was 25 words or so describing it,” write Search EngineLand’s Danny Sullivan.
“With Google, it was as if you could search through every page of every book in the library. You didn’t miss that needle in a haystack. And importantly, unlike previous search engines that used automation, you didn’t find that the ‘noise’ of looking through all those pages drowned out the important relevancy ‘signal.’ Google’s search algorithm was better than others,” he added.
Yet, the Yahoo Directory endured. It persisted even after Yahoo replaced its primary search listings with Google’s, instead of its own Directory. It persisted when Yahoo abandoned its deal with Google and set out to beat the growing search giant at its own game. It persisted when Yahoo realized the futility of its own search, outsourcing its efforts to Microsoft so it could concentrate on other ambitions. Which, now, appear to be… getting back into algorithmic search and search advertising. We shrug.
As for the Yahoo Directory, that which was such a core part of Yahoo’s early efforts—indeed, the source of the very name “Yahoo” itself, an acronym short for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle—received a rather unceremonious death notice, published yesterday.
“Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly,” reads a blog post from Yahoo senior vice president Jay Rossiter.