Yahoo! Search Marketing More Broke Than Ever

When Yahoo! bought Overture they had the market default position as being THE KEYWORD TOOL. As a company that makes most of its profits from selling keywords, how dumb is is for them to let their keyword research tool die without warning? If they are upgrading their paid search platform, killing the current tools without warning is a dumb first step toward getting marketers to warm up to the exciting new system.

Stop double and triple mailing the direct mail pieces. Do a bit of market analysis on your market position and current resources. Fire the people who keep doing the dumb things. Your easiest points of improvement come from analyzing your market position and leveraging what you already have. When you start again from an established market position is is silly to kill off your old market position, especially if you are already behind.

I need to fix my keyword research tool, since the death of Overture killed my keyword tool. I am thinking about either switching it to being driven from Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery. More on that soon.

Published: January 30, 2007 by Aaron Wall in yahoo


January 30, 2007 - 1:53pm

I'll second that. Overture was one of the most useful tools online - and not just for seo, it was useful as a psychological tool for general copywriting. It is sad to see it go :(

January 30, 2007 - 1:58pm

This is just one more indication to me that yahoo just doesn't know what it's doing any more. Back in the day when yahoo bought e-groups (and e-groups was really the place to be for easily managed online discussion) I figured yahoo did know what it was doing.

Recently I have seen too many places where yahoo just doesn't cut it, for instance usability wise.

January 30, 2007 - 2:08pm

What's interesting is that in Panama Yahoo! intends (as I understand from an account manager I spoke to) to remove the bidding landscape.

Which means that they are making the bidding landscape less transparent (this is to ensure clients will bid for their CPA targets ignoring what the competition do and thus cease to exploit bid gaps).

Another blow to the advertiser, some additional income for Yahoo!.

January 30, 2007 - 2:34pm

Bad move on Yahoo's part. At least they're are some great keyword services for you to use with your keyword tool. I personally really like keyword discovery.

January 30, 2007 - 4:51pm

Want to hear another bad move? They've terminated their affiliate program too (for signing people up to YPN).

January 30, 2007 - 6:12pm

I was a little perturbed to see the keyword tool die... hopefully it's just a temporary issue and it'll be back soon. I don't know if I'd say that YSM is more broke than ever - I actually like the new system 100x better than the old system. Once they get the keyword tool back ( and hopefully integrate it into the YSM interface, cuz the current keyword tool there sucks ) they'll be on the right track.

January 30, 2007 - 6:15pm

To me it looks like Yahoo Panama simply tried to copy whatever features that Google Adwords has, but forgot to migrate its good Overture keyword suggestion tool across.

About the removal of its bidding landscape, I don't think it will make much of a difference to any experienced PPC advertisers. Also, it will not make sense anymore to leave the bid prices transparent to everyone, once ad quality is being applied to the determination of the ad rankings.

January 30, 2007 - 6:58pm

How do you know for sure that it isn't just on vacation again? This down time has happened several times in the last year and seemed to bounce back rather quickly most times. Is there an official post from Yahoo?

January 30, 2007 - 8:09pm

I'm a big fan of the Keyword Discovery tool - that's my favorite keyword tool now. Hope you use it.

Your insights into Yahoo's dumb move by letting that tool die are spot on, as usual.

January 30, 2007 - 9:07pm

Yet another great tool that people actually used that Yahoo decides to kill off. Are they shooting themselves in the foot on purpose? These companies should do a better job paying more attention to the people that keep them in business. I will be looking forward to your new tool Aaron. Thanks!

January 30, 2007 - 9:20pm

Hey Aaron, I think it would be cool if you could use the keyword discovery data (if it isn't much worse than wordtracker's?).

I really like the digitalpoint tool which compares the overture results and the wordtracker results...I think comparing the 2 estimations used to be a good way to find out whether a term was inflated:

Sometimes wordtracker's estimations are way off, because of the small data base..and sometimes overture's are way off...if both showed high volumes, it was a good estimation, that the term was a good one.

However, I think it was a bit silly of them to use the actual overture results and the wordtracker estimation (or was it the count?)..instead of making an estimation like you do with your seo kw research tool. Btw, if you're gonna fix your tool you might want to change the estimation formula, too, as that has changed, too, I guess..even though it's not too important as its more about relative volume in the first place... (but in case you got any good numbers of the market share it would be easy to adapt..).

Plus, if you can use the keyword discovery data, it would be cool as you'd probably be the only one out there using it for a tool (DP already had wordtracker's data) ;-).

January 30, 2007 - 9:41pm

Google is piloting a new keyword volume estimator on their AdWords platform, my company got access to it a week ago. It adjusts to your country based on your settings in AdWords.

We did a quick sanity check against some of the keywords for which we estimate we've got 100% impressions and it's not out of the ballpark. There are estimates for broad, phrase, and exact matching, pretty sweet.

Another tool I use to estimate volume is to do MSN keyword research and multiply by 10. I figure AdCenter has about 10% of the search market and that's a big enough sample to justify a multiplier. Hell, it can't be any worse than Overture's clunky old tool. FWIW, these estimates seem okay but I have not checked them against Google AdWord's volume estimator.

I bet Yahoo is going to replace its old volume estimator with a new one. Clearly MSN AdCenter and now Google are beefing this up, Yahoo will be left behind if they don't do a better job.

January 30, 2007 - 10:50pm

FYI, Yahoo Search Marketing says that the Keyword Tool has not been pulled, just experiencing technical difficulties:

January 30, 2007 - 11:43pm

My boss loved it when constructing quick sales presentations for SEO... but it wasn't so great when clients learned that there really weren't 50,000 searches per month for "mount pleasant sc real estate company" ;)

January 31, 2007 - 12:03am

Good to hear from Loren that the tool is not dead. I adjusted my tool awhile ago to use KeywordDiscovery and WordTracker data, as well. The Overture tool has been unreliable for quite some time. It's been dead all of today:

$ telnet 80
telnet: Unable to connect to remote host: Attempt to connect timed out without establishing a connection

January 31, 2007 - 12:36am

I had some high hopes for Yahoo with them buying up the new social sites--it was as if they knew what we wanted and the new direction of things. This sure laughs in the face of that theory. Who is running that show anymore anyway?

January 31, 2007 - 2:36am

I was experiencing a lot of lag with my tool (Yes, I have one too.... ;) ) the past week with Overture, but some queries did return results. I had recieved an email implying they where dropping their service, but I must have missunderstood it.

I was able to extract keyword lists and I didn't believe they would just let it die,because if they really were pulling the plug they'd 301 their page.

Anyways thanks for clearing this up Loren!

January 31, 2007 - 2:42am

I think we have to be honest here... it was a good tool primarily because there wasn't anything else. Wordtracker and Keyword Discover came along, which was a great addition, and the main benefit to the old Overture tool was that it was free.

It was a tool developed for the PPC market, but has since been overly used for organic SEO. But a tool that rearranges the words into alphabetical order and combines word forms, plural/singular is not that great for organic SEO.

January 31, 2007 - 2:42am

Where can I find an up to date comparative list of working keyword research tools? Any of you guys want to blog that up for us?

January 31, 2007 - 3:25am

Totally agree Brian. It shows how little resources they poured into leveraging their default market position into a serious sustainable market advantage.

January 31, 2007 - 3:49am


What about Nichebot? What's your take on that? Could you use any of their data or do they just use other companies' data? I haven't really looked into it much.

January 31, 2007 - 4:16am

After some analysis last night, I noticed that the page where the keyword tool was located on was actually returning a "302 redirect" rather than a "301 redirect", which would normally indicate that the URL will be used again at some point in time, so perhaps we are jumping the gun and maybe it is a temporary situation.

January 31, 2007 - 8:45am

Nichebot is powered from Wordtracker (now offers a free version), Overture (currently broken), Google (publicly available), and Keyword Discovery (which has a free and paid API, as well as paid public access).

January 31, 2007 - 2:05pm

We had a presentation from Yahoo yesterday in our Office & they're moving to a Quality Scoring system therefore there's no need to reveal the bids anymore


January 31, 2007 - 2:58pm

Hey there,

I wanted to confirm that YSM's public keyword research tool (formerly known as the Overture’s Keyword Selector Tool- KST) continues to exist today and will continue to exist until we replace it with an improved product. Unfortunately, the responsiveness of this free tool is diminished due to the volume of hits it receives each day, therefore browsers may time out and error pages may appear but it doesn’t mean that this tool has been removed.

We do have plans to offer a new public keyword research tool, which would be hosted through Yahoo! and available to our API partners. We plan on making this new tool available later this year.

If you are an advertiser, I'd suggest using the keyword research tool within our platform (the old or new one).


January 31, 2007 - 3:53pm

i heard it hasn't been taken down, just moved to a new location because it was getting hit too much by sites like this one (ooops)

seo for firefox is an excellent tool but i dont use it for keyword research. keep up the good work :)

hey aaron, is this you?

January 31, 2007 - 10:45pm

I agree with you on how Yahoo! is shooting themselves in the foot with each move that they make. Killing Overture's keyword tool was the final straw for us to not go into Panama for PPC despite its features. We've also had problems with Yahoo! on PPC issues including overbilling and complexity. Hopefully they realize that the marketing community is not happy with the direction that they are going.

Mark Dowling
February 1, 2007 - 12:58am

It's still there and operating, as Farhan says in an earlier comment. Maybe it's the responsiveness that's the issue? I live in Australia so I don't hit it a peak demand time, but even so it does time out about every 4th attempt (BTW I don't work for Yahoo).

Hollywood Lou
February 2, 2007 - 2:21am

Yahoo was playing games with the Overture keyword tool for a while. Back in July '06, my in-house agency received a PPC proposal from Yahoo/Overture for a $10,000 monthly budget (as we requested). The keyword numbers submitted to us in this official proposal were DOUBLE or TRIPLE those that were currently listed in the Free Keyword Tool used by websites like this one.

I asked the Overture staffer in the Pasadena office why the huge disparity in reported numbers and I was told that Overture was experiencing glitches from a planned overhaul but not to worry, the true numbers were those I received in my company's confidential proposal.

Which leads me to think that troubled Yahoo is panicking about wringing every dollar from its current business model- and this in turn might cause Yahoo to monetize its previously free keyword data, and making that info available only to high-dollar customers. The L.A. Times reported recently that Yahoo has been providing top-secret search info to big music companies in order to help these lables determine what artists and songs are gaining/losing popularity. Go figure.

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