Yahoo! Search Starts to Blog

Yahoo Search has joined the ranks of blogging businesses, launching a customer facing blog dubbed Yahoo Search Blog at ysearchblog.com.

The effort is similar to one begun by Google in May. Like Google’s blog, Yahoo’s new site attempts to reach out to company watchers by offering glimpses inside the search division’s culture and development scheme. Both sites offer XML feeds, Google’s in Atom format and Yahoo’s in RSS.

However, there are some key differences between the companies’ twin blogging debuts. For one, Yahoo is offering a blogroll — a list of other relevant sites — which even links to Google’s blog. And unlike Google’s blogging effort, comments are enabled. Additionally, the initial post is signed by an individual. Google’s blog has alternated between anonymous postings (from “A Googler”) and those signed by employees.

The first post comes from Jeff Weiner, Yahoo’s SVP of Search and Marketplace. Weiner introduces the effort by giving his take on why search appears to be at the center of the universe right now, and articulating what he hopes the blog will accomplish.

“This blog is designed to provide a window into what our team is thinking and doing, in their own words,” he writes. “Above all else we hope this blog enables you to share our excitement for the search industry and what the future holds.”

The first 27 comments posted to the blog, which is published using Movable Type, were for the most part positive, hailing the company for choosing to keep comments open. Interestingly, Yahoo chose to launch its blog the day before Google is likely to begin trading its shares publicly.

Jeremy Zawodny, a well-known blogger and Yahoo employee who consulted on the corporate blog, offered some comments on his own site shortly after launch. These included an exhortation to readers not to spam or troll the blog’s comments, and a pledge that the site was not conceived as a PR outlet.

“PR does not own the blog. And it’d be a wasted opportunity if it was just another PR outlet,” he wrote. “I’ve tried to impress upon the folks involved that running a weblog is about openness and that it’s a two-way street. Bloggers can often smell PR influence a mile away.”

Zawodny added he expected readers would be a mix of “journalists, bloggers, power users, and random other folks.”

Yahoo appears to have learned from moves made at Google’s blog launch that were widely considered to be mistakes. Shortly after making a first anonymous post on May 10, Google deleted comments defending the company’s new offices in India, an edit apparently motivated by fear of drawing attention to its own outsourcing policies. Predictably, the blogosphere picked up on the change right away, heaping a fair amount of ridicule onto the company’s pretensions of casualness. Three days later, the company issued a sort-of apology.

“Well, we managed to break rules with our very first couple of posts here,” admitted a follow-up post from Google Director of Marketing Doug Edwards. “We started our blog with a post about recruiting and didn’t sign it. Then we changed it once it was up. You just don’t do that with a blog, according to half the Google staff and all the Blogger folk. They’ve made that opinion abundantly clear to us with emails, hallway lectures and posts on their own blogs laying out all the ways this launch could have gone better.”

Google went on to promise a mix of anonymous and signed posts, but no corporate speak.

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