Win Back My Love, Yahoo

  |  September 20, 2011   |  Comments

Five easy steps that Yahoo needs to take to get itself out of its death spiral.

You know I have been over you, Yahoo. You have disappointed me time and time again.

But now you have my eye again.

I love the way you kicked Carol to the curb. She has been whiny since the beginning. Nothing is her fault. Everybody around her is to blame. I know that’s the strategy for staying alive in your job these days. But it’s so annoying and boring.

The only thing better you could have done was to fire her through your company-wide email list She apparently thought it was appropriate to bring the kids into the fight. Nobody is really into being classy around your parts. You could have had a lot more fun with that than a simple written-out phone call. If she hadn’t picked up would you have left a voicemail? That would have been pretty sweet.

But that’s all "Jersey Shore" drama under the bridge. Let's talk about next season.

This is a great moment for you. You are at a crossroads that could significantly change the future of your company. You can either continue down the same MySpace-inspired road you are on. Or you can turn right down a new road.

It's not hard. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to make this work.

Here are five easy steps to get yourself out of your death spiral:

  1. Trust your engineers. I know for a fact that you have great people working for you. They are slowly but surely jumping ship. But you still have brains and innovation sitting in your company. Google closed its Labs project. Open it up at Yahoo. Make it mandatory that they begin innovating. Put their work out into the open for the public to test and try. Which brings me to point two.
  2. Trust your audience. Listen to what they want. Give it to them. And give it to them fast. You probably haven’t looked at this page in a while, but take a look at your values. Before you click, do you know any of your values? I don’t know if those values go on behind the scenes. But honestly, I haven’t seen those values from my perspective in a long time.

    I think you might have gotten confused. (It's OK. It happens to me all the time.) But I think you might have mistakenly taken your anti-values for what you actually value.

    The first anti-value on the list is "Bureaucracy." Admit it. You love bureaucracy. But now is your chance. Listen to what you have already known for some time. Listen to your engineers and audience. Stop listening to your lawyers.
  3. Get out of your deal with Microsoft. You had a good thing going with your search engine and paid search platform. I know it's getting dusty just sitting in the closet. But you've got the people to make it top notch. Innovate that platform like hell. Test, test, test. Paid search still has a long way to go to get better. You have it in you to make your search the best in the world.

    You say, "Our business focus is on creating a content, communications, and community platform that delivers rich consumer experiences and advertising solutions across all digital screens." If you manage to get that done, you don't want to share your advertising revenue with Microsoft. You create the platform to sell advertising. Don't create a platform so somebody else can sell advertising on it.

    Text ads are a major part of online advertising. That's not going to end anytime soon. We are not going to all fall back in love with display advertising. You need both avenues.
  4. Make your display advertising easier. Facebook is killing you with how easy it is to buy display advertising. Keep working on your My Display Ads environment. Then tie it into the text ad environment that you started back up.
  5. Stop making excuses. Every politician and business person that screws up likes to tell us how it’s not their fault. You’ve been doing that too.

    Here is your kick-off campaign for the new Yahoo: "We've been sucking for a long time. Today the suck stops here."

    Give every one of your employees their own blog. Let them write whatever they want.

    Start doing Domino’s Pizza-inspired advertising. "Tell us how we can do better." Create a site outlining the ways you suck and show how you are fixing it.

    Love your engineers. Love your audience. Stop the bulls***.

You have a really easy choice. You have two options:

  1. You won't do anything like this. You are going to continue down the same boring path you have been. At best, you will sell everything to someone else. At worst, your stock price will go so low that Snoop Dogg won't become your president. He'll just buy the company.
  2. You can dig into the innovative roots that started your company. You have this in you. It's in your DNA. I know you have awesome in you. Just let it out.

Please pick option two. The world is filled with mediocre, hollow companies. Today is your chance to change all that at Yahoo. Be great.


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Sage Lewis

Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.

Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.

Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.

His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.

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