Yahoo’s plight is indicative of an uncomfortable truth that many in the field of search engine optimization (SEO) live with: Yahoo’s search is overshadowed by Google.
The uncalled-for panic surrounding #mobilegeddon is a reflection of just how much Google controls the search landscape. SEO is continually reacting to Google’s tweaks to its search engine, and an update could cause such an emotional outburst and generate a frantic last-minute effort to make sites mobile-friendly shows Google’s dominance. (Never mind that in reality the changes were made known months in advance, and never mind that Google was only refining its means of favoring mobile-friendly sites for smartphone users, which was already happening anyway.)
For Yahoo, this means that the company is going to have an uphill battle if they want to compete in search, and even if they opt instead to compete in terms advertising, services, or software, Google has an edge in the sheer amount of user data that they keep. That data is shared between its different product and services, making it easier to show customers what they want and to keep them in Google’s ecosystem. (It’s important to note, though, that Google isn’t foolproof – all the data and redirection in the world couldn’t dig Google Plus out of its quagmire.)
Google teaches an important lesson in regards to markets: for all the worship of “disruptive” technologies, a large business will continue to accrue advantages over smaller ones. The more Google is used, the more edge the company has. Sure, there are cases of large markets being disrupted by technologies (the music, motion picture, and taxi industries spring to mind, each trying to maintain the landscape of its respective market through legislation), but those industries were blind-sided by iTunes and the advent of ride share apps.
Google, with its Google X labs and its penchant for experimentation, does not for the time being seem to suffer the same threat. Yahoo will have to find its own niche and try to profit off that, and time will tell if the “remix” of Yahoo will turn into something new or simply be the same old derivative tune.