Yahoo Search becomes unusable because of ads

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 2, 2018
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Internet, Search, Yahoo

If you visit Yahoo Search right now from a location in the United States, the chance is high that you get more ads on the search results page than organic results.

A search for laptops, for instance, returns five ads at the top that fill most "above the fold" space, and another batch of ads below some organic results in the middle. The sidebar is filled with ads as well and nothing else so that all above the fold content with the exception of the Yahoo Search interface is made up of advertisements.

The following screenshot highlights the above the fold layout.

yahoo search ads

Searches for "TVs," "flowers," "patio" or "football jersey" use the same ad-heavy layout. Yahoo Search does not use it for all queries right now though; a search for Apple returns Apple's website in the top location, and the same is true for other company searches.

It appears however that if you search for something that you can buy online or offline, the chance is high that the new ad-heavy layout is used.

Both Google Search and Bing return fewer ads, but they do use the same layout. Ads are displayed on top of organic results and in the sidebar.

My favorite search engine Startpage displays ads on top of organic results as well, but it adds a different background color to the whole unit so that it is super easy to distinguish between ads and organic content.

Yahoo Search's new layout has additional issues besides that it displays too many ads. The advertisement is not distinguished enough from organic (not paid) results. The only indicator of ad blocks is the "ads related to" line at the top of the block, and the horizontal line at its end.

Ad units use the same layout as organic results, and they are not highlighted as ads in any way. Bing and Google Search add "ad" next to the URL so that users can distinguish between ads and organic content.

This method is not super obvious either, however, and the layout of ad units is designed to drive more clicks to these units.

Yahoo removed the indicator as well so that it is impossible to tell if an item is an ad or not. Don't believe me? Let's play a quick game of ad or no ad.

ad or no ad

Here are a couple of elements that ad units use that organic results don't on Yahoo Search:

  • Bold text.
  • Yellow star ratings.
  • Links directly underneath the unit that use little whitespace.

Yahoo Search has a share of about 5% of the global search market according to NetMarketShare's statistics. Only Bing with roughly 7.92%, Baidu with 10.44% and Google with its dominating 74.54% have more market share.

The new Yahoo Search layout is limited to some regions. It is active in the United States, but not in Germany.

Now You: Which search engine do you use right now, and why?

Yahoo Search becomes unusable because of ads
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Yahoo Search becomes unusable because of ads
If you visit Yahoo Search right now from a location in the United States, the chance is high that you get more ads on the search results page than organic results.
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  1. ShintoPlasm said on January 4, 2018 at 10:04 am

    What’s the difference between this and the regular

  2. Panzer said on January 3, 2018 at 3:02 pm
  3. basicuser said on January 3, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    DuckDuckGo. Because when looking for an item to buy, DDG gives better results to actual manufacturer’s sites, rather than to Amazon or such. I prefer going directly to manufacturer’s sites to research their products. From there one can often call and speak to a live human to buy directly or from a local distributor.

    Sorry Yahoo/Google/Bing, if I want to read ads, I’ll buy a Sunday newspaper.

  4. Sophie said on January 3, 2018 at 9:50 am

    I use primarily DuckDuckGo, but because I find that results are not sometimes quite as good as Google, I have made an XPI Addon that fires up Google from Firefox toolbar, as an easily accessible button. So I just press that “Google Button” if DDG fails to quite give what I’m looking for.

    But I’ve had to stamp down hard on Google. I use a large number of scripts via CSS script-handlers, that I’ve not written (other kind people have), that block all the nuisances that Google can give. Particularly the “consent” and “privacy” stuff…but basically a seriously “tamed” Google that gives no annoyances any longer.

    To further tame Google, I have had to further block parts of it via uBO….and this is with reference to what Google sometimes thinks is some request that looks “suspicious” from my PC…..simply because I am usually on VPN. uBO has managed to stop Google from blocking my searches because of some IP lookup that belongs to a VPN server. This is just more of Google being evil when they said they wouldn’t be…… and I have all their adverts blocked as well, so its a real clean Google search if DDG is not quite enough.

    Isn’t it amazing how many hoops we all sometimes have to jump through, just to get a nice clean interface…and simple results? It feels to me as though they (whoever) want to control us, while we in turn have to control and tame them….in order to get what we thought we ought to get in the first place! I’m truly not someone who wants everything for free….and I believe in really paying for what is good out there, especially supporting the “smaller guys”. But so many things seem to need taming, and CSS or DOM injectors to kind of get them right. Then they move the goal posts, and I race around tidying things up again!!

    Ahh……..relax………breathe!!!! :)

    1. ShintoPlasm said on January 3, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      You could also use the following code as a bookmarklet, to switch from DDG to Google:


      1. Rick A. said on January 5, 2018 at 2:45 am

        @ShintoPlasm – The bookmarklet won’t work for me. i use a lot of bookmarklets too. Maybe it was because i tested it in Private Browsing Mode. i’ll test in in regular browsing mode later.

      2. Rick A. said on January 9, 2018 at 1:50 am

        Yeah, i tried everything and that Bookmarklet won’t do anything. All my other ones work.

      3. Tom Hawack said on January 3, 2018 at 3:12 pm

        DDG’s great !bang feature served by a nice little script.
        Of course will work with all !bangs. !ge for Google Encrypted, i.e.

        Copy/pasted, thanks :=)

  5. Harry T said on January 3, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Not an ad in sight –

  6. Tom Hawack said on January 3, 2018 at 2:38 am

    1- searX via ( = Default. It’s a metasearch engine
    2- DuckDuckGo
    3- Qwant
    4- Google Encrypted.

    searX can provide results from the three others and from many more (options).

    Concerning Yahoo! it never deserved, IMO, its exclamation point. At one time I had in mind of opening a Yahoo account which appeared impossible given my privacy/security settings. Strange company. I thought they had disappeared. Last time I heard about them was when they were about to sell.

    About selling, this joke:
    Her: you never buy me anything …
    Him : well, you never sell me anything!

  7. Ayy said on January 3, 2018 at 1:59 am

    yahoo has been garbage for a very long time, I was honestly furious when firefox made it the default search engine on my parents computer a while back, because the ads are literally malware as the first result when you search for something as trivial as “printer model# driver”

  8. Batcg said on January 3, 2018 at 1:47 am

    I don’t understand why still use this shitty old interface outside USA. It makes absolutely no sense.

  9. Anonymous said on January 3, 2018 at 1:19 am

    Use DuckDuckGo and StartPage. Don’t like Yahoo anymore. I’m even considering blocking it in the hosts file.

  10. Dave said on January 3, 2018 at 12:52 am

    I was unaware “Yahoo search” still existed ;)

  11. M3 said on January 2, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    searx(.me) meta-search (worth to mention metager also )

    – without google, yahoo, bing, yandex , or any other sneaky-greedy thieves
    – no profiling
    – no ads
    – less/harder censure

    duckduckgo, startpage(uses google), ixquick(uses yahoo), qwant and many more can be used under one search engine

    Let google-like (ad-based) search engines die.

  12. KNTRO said on January 2, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    DuckDuckGo. Period. I don’t need anything else.

  13. Sir Pixelot said on January 2, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    I use Google, its great for my needs, and doesn’t censor adult search content automatically like DuckDuckGo does. I always use uBlock Origin, so I never worry about ads in search results.

    1. Richard Allen said on January 3, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      You can use a bookmark for StartPage and DuckDuckGo that will use your preferences config, no cookies need to be saved. Also, StartPage uses the Google search engine, the results do not visually look exactly the same but it’s close enough for my needs. That said, I do occasionally fire up google search to see the icing on the cake.


      1. Richard Allen said on January 4, 2018 at 4:20 am

        Back when I was first using Nightly v57 I tried to find an extension like ‘ContextSearch web-ext’ but couldn’t find one and ended up with ‘Context Search WebExtension’. ‘ContextSearch web-ex’ is exactly what I was looking for back then and I now have it installed and working. But truthfully, since I’m used to the Context Search WebExtension and have my Searches folder setup I’ll continue to use that and have the other disabled but ready to use as a backup.

        And… earlier I figured out why I wasn’t able to add my custom StartPage config to my Searches folder, it was because I had it set to use POST instead of GET, once I changed that I was able to add it to my folder. So, now I am able to do a context search using my custom preferences config with both StartPage and DuckDuckGo. Sweet!

        Thanks again for the heads up on the webext and the reminder about Mycroft, I’ve added a couple search engines to the search bar that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.

      2. Tom Hawack said on January 3, 2018 at 7:46 pm

        ERRATUM atchoum : My mistake concerning the extension I mentioned in my previous/above post :
        I should have written “ContextSearch web-ext” and not “”Bookmarklets context menu””

      3. Tom Hawack said on January 3, 2018 at 7:38 pm

        @Richard Allen, the “Context Search WebExtension” is nice but deals with search engines the user has to create separately from those of Firefox itself. On the other hand it allows flexibility of the search query form, as you mention it.

        There’s an extension which displays the very Firefox search engines right in the context-menu : “Bookmarklets context menu”

        I used to proceed as you do, that is no cookies (StartPage, DuchDuckGo) and search via the personalized search query as you do. Now I keep exception cookies only for DDG and SearX, easier especially when I wish to change very few search parameters. I guess the method is personal, we all have our preferences.

      4. Richard Allen said on January 3, 2018 at 7:13 pm

        @Tom Hawack
        Thank you sir, I’ll have to bookmark the Mycroft Search Engines page.

        In Firefox 57+ I mostly use the “Context Search WebExtension” which takes a little work to setup but I love having access to 18 search engines by right-clicking on any high-lighted text and then choosing the search engine to be used from the context menu. Prior to FF v57 I use “Quick Context Search”. Because I’m a little ‘old school’ I also use the search bar and have 15 search engines in that.

        With the DuckDuckGo link I posted earlier I can right-click on the text input box and add it to my ‘Searches’ folder to use with the context search webext but the Startpage link that is created, from my previous link, won’t work. Theoretically you should be able to right-click any search engine input box but it doesn’t work with every search engine, I think urbandictionary is another example.

      5. Tom Hawack said on January 3, 2018 at 3:19 pm

        True, but will be problematic for setting that as a search engine, at least on Firefox 57+ where home-made search engines are no longer possible. In which case one can create that engine with its preferences included as you mention the by going to the Mycroft Search Engines page and create it there, then download/install it for Firefox from there. That’s what I had done with a tailored Google Encrypted Search engine.

  14. Jonathan said on January 2, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    I use Duckduckgo exclusively, as far as Yahoo, my wife still goes to the site and reads the news stories, and then of course sends them to me, and when I see yahoo in the address I refuse to go there.

  15. Clairvaux said on January 2, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    That reminds me of some rare occasions when I accidentally stumble on certain mainstream media sites with no ad protection whatsoever : sometimes, all the screen is filled by advertising and (at least as annoying) auto-promotion : banners reminding you that you’re on media X (as if you didn’t know it), menus menus menus, everything but the actual information you have come there to look for.

    I really don’t know how people who never use any form of protection at all can still manage to browse the Web and not get raving mad.

    1. lehnerus2000 said on January 3, 2018 at 2:44 am

      Agreed 100%.

      IMO, if you don’t use ad and/or script blockers, the Internet is almost unusable.

      I’m forced to use IE (on W7) to visit certain Australian Government websites as they don’t like Pale Moon.
      If I’m foolish enough to browse any other sites using IE, I’m bombarded by screaming videos and other rubbish.

      1. Richard Allen said on January 4, 2018 at 4:43 am

        I rarely use IE but “Adblock Plus for IE” seems to work well for me. If you don’t want to install that you can use the EasyList Tracking Protection List but it won’t have any element hiding rules. There is also the EasyPrivacy Tracking Protection List available. I have ABP for IE and the EasyPrivacy Tracking Protection List installed for the two or three times a year I’m curious enough to startup IE.

      2. lehnerus2000 said on January 5, 2018 at 2:13 am

        Thanks Richard Allen. :)

        Luckily I only have to visit those sites rarely.
        I just need to restrain myself from browsing, when I have IE open. :D

        I do almost all of my browsing (on W7) using Pale Moon.
        I use Firefox on Linux Mint.

  16. Mike said on January 2, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    I use a combination of DuckDuckGo and Google Search. I use Google Search for university research and work, while DuckDuckGo is my preferred choice for my personal devices/searches. I have found that DuckDuckGo, while improved, still is weaker in finding specific searches than Google, which is why I use them for work.

    As for Yahoo, I am not surprised by this move. Verizon knows that the vast majority of people still using Yahoo as their search engine are individuals who are probably not overly computer literate. They may not even know how to change the default search engine in their browser, much less install a content blocker like uBlock Origin. Therefore, Verizon will be more than happy to double down on feeding these people ads on top of ads.

    Perhaps most disheartening is the laziness/greed exhibited by companies like Oath/Verizon. Instead of cleaning up the web in an effort to make it so that people don’t feel they HAVE to install a content blocker, they are doubling down on their bad practices. This will only drive more people to installing content blockers and as a result, websites that do have strong web practices will be hurt.

  17. Richard Allen said on January 2, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    I use Startpage and DuckDuckGo in that order and never use Yahoo Search. I just noticed looking at Yahoo Search that the URL for search results is a mess and won’t even work unless javascript is enabled which is kind of scary considering how often they have been busted distributing malware. Also, my userScript ‘General URL Cleaner’ doesn’t do anything which is surprising. No biggie, the Yahoo search engine is not something I would use anyway. Maybe… Verizon’s business plan is to intentionally drive everyone away so that they can have a bigger write off for tax purposes. ;)

    1. Brad said on January 3, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      Yahoo hasn’t done searches natively for years it’s farmed out to Bing which is the reason for the redirect script.

      1. Richard Allen said on January 4, 2018 at 4:19 am

        I had forgotten about that, thanks.

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