Yahoo: what to do with all those eyeballs

My friend Om Malik has an interesting post about Yahoo — and not about the interminable Yahoo vs. Microsoft-plus-Carl-Icahn takeover, which has become the beast that refuses to die, but about the kind of thing Yahoo should arguably have been focusing on instead of trying to compete with Google on search. As he describes it, one of the blog posts at Web Worker Daily got a spot on Yahoo’s home page, and then got voted up by users of Yahoo Buzz, a Digg-style feature. As Om says:

In a few hours, the story … was viewed over 200,000 times and attracted over 350 comments. Now that’s a lot of traffic — but more importantly, a gigantic amount of engagement displayed by Yahoo visitors. The traffic sent our way by Yahoo was many times the traffic we get from, say, Digg or StumbleUpon.

As Om notes, it’s not so much the sheer volume of traffic that is impressive, but the engagement of the audience. Even during the biggest Digg storm or Stumbleupon flood I’ve ever experienced, I’ve never gotten more than a handful of comments. As beaten-down as it is, Yahoo still gets a ton of traffic — but Om is right that it needs to find better ways of taking advantage of and leveraging that traffic, instead of just trying to go head-to-head with Google. Should it sell off its search arm to Microsoft? Perhaps. At least then it could concentrate on what makes it different from Google, instead of trying to duplicate it.

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