Mystery: where does Yahoo’s search traffic go to?

Every time I read about Yahoo‘s share of the search market I wonder to what sites the Yahoo traffic is actually going. Here is the mystery: depending on the source, Yahoo’s share of the US search market is around 20% give or take (e.g. Compete numbers or ComScore numbers) but when I look at the actual numbers of our portfolio companies I have never seen a site that gets more than 7% of its search engine traffic from Yahoo with many sites rather being in the 1-2% range. So while the sample might not be perfect, it can definitely not explain this large discrepancy – so here are a few theories that I came up with:

  • Google Analytics over represents Google’s traffic (all above mentioned portfolio companies use Google Analytics)
  • Yahoo Search Submit program skews the results towards paying clients
  • Yahoo drives a large amount of traffic to its own properties (like Yahoo Finance or Yahoo Sports) instead of third-party sites

Perhaps it is a combination of these factors but it is such a large discrepancy that I just don’t fully understand what is happening.

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