A fresh look at Yahoo's search results Thursday by Hitwise Intelligence raises the question of whether Yahoo could survive just fine without its search engine.
Such a question is rather important to Yahoo investors, given the Internet search pioneer has given a cold shoulder to Microsoft, which has previously expressed interest in buying Yahoo's search assets. Yahoo, however, rebuffed the offer, noting in its investor presentation that selling its search assets, including its algorithmic search, would:
Jeopardize the Yahoo user experience and make it difficult for Yahoo to maintain search and display volume.
But Heather Hopkins, vice president of research for Hitwise, noted in her blog that Yahoo's valuable sites would not necessarily fair poorly without Yahoo's search engine.
Hopkins took Yahoo's top 20 U.S. Internet properties for the month of June and ranked them, based on user traffic.
As expected, Yahoo Mail represented a 37.5 percent slice of the traffic pie, followed by the main Yahoo site with 30.6 percent and Yahoo search with 12.l percent.
Then Hopkins compared whether these top 20 sites were getting their users by way of a Google search or a Yahoo search. In all but six of the top 20 sites, more users were coming to Yahoo's top 20 sites by way of a Google search--even to its popular Yahoo Mail and Yahoo.com.
Yahoo Answers showed the disparity the most, with 49 percent of its U.S. traffic coming from Google in June, while only 20 percent was from a Yahoo search.
Hopkins made this observation in her blog:
I'll admit, I went into this analysis thinking that the data would show that Yahoo was worth more together--I thought that the sum of the whole would be greater than the parts. However after looking more closely at the data, I'm not sure that is necessarily true.
Whether Yahoo is better kept whole or split up I can't say. What I can say is that the parts of Yahoo are quite valuable and wouldn't necessarily be lost without the search engine.
Wonder if Yahoo has read Hopkins' blog?