If you’re a Mozilla Firefox user, then you’re probably already aware that the latest version of Firefox came with a new default search engine: Yahoo Search. Mozilla’s partnership with Yahoo was a deal that surprised the local search community, but does that necessarily mean it was the wrong move? In this edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll discuss the merits of Yahoo Search and why its new status as Firefox’s default search setting is a positive addition to the search engine landscape.
When looking at Yahoo Search, it’s important to remember that Yahoo’s search engine is actually powered by Microsoft’s Bing. That means you’re not going to see a significant difference in the quality of search results between Yahoo and Bing. While Google is the indisputable king of search, Yahoo and Bing are perfectly adequate alternatives. Plus, as Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land notes, Yahoo is currently testing a new search results page that looks strikingly similar to the design of Google’s SERPs. This shows that Yahoo is clearly very serious about revamping its reputation and making its search engine more competitive.
More importantly, Yahoo now appeals to users with privacy concerns— a group that’s growing in number by the day— by supporting Firefox’s Do Not Track feature. This was a required condition of Yahoo’s deal with Firefox. Of course, Google does not offer any such feature; in fact, Google relies on tracking its users’ browsing habits for advertising purposes. If you’re an Internet user who doesn’t want to be tracked by third-party advertisers, then it’s in your best interest to keep using Yahoo as your go-to search engine instead of switching back to Google.
That’s not the only reason Prospect Genius reviews Yahoo Search so highly. Another big advantage of using Yahoo Search is that doing so will spread out your data and prevent one single entity from collecting all of it. If you’re a Gmail user, that means Google already has loads of information about you stored. Do you really want all of your search queries added to that pile? Think of Yahoo Search as a protective measure against an all-encompassing privacy hack.
Fortunately, recent statistics show that Yahoo is defying the odds and actually competing with Google. According to comScore, Yahoo’s search share went up 1.6 points from November to December 2014, while Google’s share went down the same amount. This means Google lost 1.6 share points to Yahoo in the wake of Yahoo’s promotion to Firefox’s default search engine. Although that number doesn’t seem very high, we’re always happy to see a challenge to Google’s monopoly!
However, Yahoo’s detractors are eager to suggest that this share bump was most likely caused by users who just didn’t bother changing their search engine back to Google right away. In fact, reports that only look at Firefox’s click shares are showing that there was an immediate spike in Yahoo clicks after the update, followed by a gradual decrease in clicks as users presumably switched back to Google. This could potentially suggest that some users haven’t been totally thrilled with their Yahoo Search experience.
But we don’t think that’s the full picture. For example, we know that Google has recently begun encouraging Firefox users to switch their search engine and home page back to Google. Are users switching back to Google because they’re dissatisfied with Yahoo, or are they doing it because they’ve been pushed?
It’s impossible to answer that question with any certainty. We can, however, say confidently that sticking with Yahoo as your default search engine would be a beneficial move. As Evan Dashevsky of PCMag concludes, “Yahoo is not Google. But that might just be what’s best about it.”
In the next edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll take a look at how effective a tool Pinterest is for local businesses.