Yahoo Directory Closes
December 30, 2014
In news that will further cement just how far the humble directory website has fallen since it’s heyday in the late 90s through to the mid 2000s, Yahoo has finally closed down their much vaunted Yahoo Directory.
The Directory service, which was launched over 20 years ago in 1994, was the first core service that the company offered. It eventually went on to create the Yahoo search engine that is still used by millions today and, for a time, was the most popular search provider in the world until Google eventually usurped its position.
As search has become increasingly complex, evolving from simply returning results based on the keywords entered into something that is increasingly able to utilise the context of what is entered and the location of the user to return results, directory sites have seen their usage dwindling over the last decade or so.
Furthermore, the massive amount of spammy directory sites that exploded as more people began to utilise them to create quick and easy backlinks in an effort to improve search results have resulted in wide-scale overexposure to the point where the vast majority of directories on the web are considered spammy. In fact, using them to link back to your site is the perfect way to fall foul of Google’s Penguin algorithm, or receive a manual penalty if the offence is particularly bad.
While the Yahoo directory never fell that far, and was still as respected as directory sites are able to be, the fact remains that fewer and fewer users find such sites useful following the dawn of semantic and local search.
It’s a fairly undignified ending for the directory, which played such a huge part in influencing the direction of the search market back when it was still a fledgling idea that few could have predicted would become the monolith that essentially governs the internet for many users as it does today.
Currently if a user wishes to access the directory they will be redirected to a Yahoo Small Businesses page that appears to play host to a bunch of broken links, at least at the time of writing. This seems to indicate that whatever the company is putting in place to replace the directory is still under construction.
Many believe that the company will still maintain something similar to a directory, but will instead focus on localised organisation of results in a similar fashion to the likes of Yell.com and other sites, which would in turn make the entries easier to navigate and would really act as something of a natural evolution of the concept.
Interestingly enough, Yahoo actually wound up shutting the directory down five days earlier than they claimed they would, with no information having yet been released as to why. However, if nothing else, this should tell you the value the company placed in its directory, which will in turn inform your opinion should anybody attempt to sell such directories as being important to SEO efforts.
Whatever the future of the directory website, and Yahoo directory in particular, may be, search will continue to evolve and concepts that were once revolutionary will be adapted or will fade away as technology marches on. Online marketing as a whole is a rapidly changing marketplace and the loss of something that was such a cornerstone for the industry is simply a further example of that.