Yahoo! and I have something in common. We're both celebrating our 10th year of being online. (I first arrived in February 1995 with a personal website that was the foundation for what later became Cre8pc.com in 1996.)
On Tuesday morning, March 1, in a ballroom at the NYC Hilton, Danny Sullivan sat down with Jerry Yang, Co-founder of Yahoo!. Of the many questions and answers we heard in that packed room (they had to open up the balcony to fit in more people), the one theme that was constant is Yahoo!'s committment to the people who use their web site and services.
I can't say I've always been happy with Yahoo! all these years. Their submission rules changed often, and without warning, like their fee-based inclusion for business sites. I had trouble finding what I wanted in their search engine and worse, the Directory. When Yahoo! bought E-Groups, they took the fun out of it and made Yahoo! Groups annoying to use.
But, to hear Yang tell the story, people are first and foremost in their minds. He said, "The Internet has grownup." So has Yahoo!. They're doing what I'm also seeing other companies are doing, and that's listening to their customers and end-users. This includes programmers, web designers and SEO's, as well as your family members.
Yang mentioned that the Internet has redefined culture and how we do journalism. Their biggest challenge is understanding what we need in the next 10 years. This is great news and shows their maturity.
Yang described Yahoo!'s wanting "to make a difference." They want to focus on users needs "more than ever." For future developments, he sees finding ways to entertain while delivering the how, when, and where is going to be the next big attraction. Whoever "gets there first", by combining different media to deliver the best overall user experience will be in the lead, he feels.
Technology aside, and only for a second, because its obvious they're having a blast with new innovations and ideas, the one thing that Yahoo! still hugs with compassion are communities. This will sit well with advances in search algorithms, but more importantly, they're determined to bring you information and are willing to bend over backwards to get it to you. One way is blogs. Says Yang, on why they're testing new blog tools, "The more they do with blogs, the more there is to search." He said they're looking for ways to tie in blogs to Yahoo! communities.
Danny Sullivan asked Mr. Yang if there were any surprises over the past 10 years. Yang replied that the surprise is how fast search has evolved.
You all helped build Yahoo!, with your sites and your submissions as SEO/SEM's. Yang mentioned that, using their new YQ desktop search as an example, "Search is not just a destination". They're looking at "seamless" search and "preference-based" searching.
While many of us are fretting over conversions, Yahoo! has moved beyond that. They're now working on how to make them applicable to you.