Other than the recent super-hack of Yahoo users and sale rumors, you probably haven’t heard much about Yahoo recently. It’s understandable…there isn’t much to report. Our Colorado SEO team noticed something today that made us think of AOL…Yahoo seems to be giving up on being a search engine. Sure, AOL has a search bar, but by any common-sense definition search isn’t their primary offering.

We’re not making this claim to be snarky; the conversation started when we noticed many search queries don’t bring back meaningful results. If you look for ‘bing places for business’: no results. Given that they partner with Bing that’s a little surprising. A few other queries showed the same results. A few minutes later they were back up, but it’s a telling that our third search engine doesn’t have reliable results.

yahoo returns no results

If you’re thinking this doesn’t affect you, it may not in the short run, but there are two consequences of Yahoo leaving search behind. First, they may fully transition to being a media company rather than a search engine company. It may be their best chance at survival, but it also means there are only two major players in the search engine field.

Second, it will mean that all the data they’ve gathered on users over the years will be sold. Maybe it’s sold to another reputable brand like Microsoft or Amazon. Maybe it gets sold to a brand you’ve never heard of, possibly overseas. This is all speculation of course, but data is cheap and storing it is valuable, meaning that companies have a big incentive to keep a near permanent copy of data shared on the web. It raises some important questions about where your data end up a few years down the road.

It’s hard to say what Yahoos future holds. For now, only the Yahoo executive team knows where they’re likely to end up. Based on the arc of AOL’s history our bet is that Yahoo’s future may not hold much search capacity, they’re likely going to continue moving toward a media business model and a sale may happen as soon as they can find a buyer.