Yahoo pulling the plug on GeoCities

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) announced that they are shutting down GeoCities, a service that provided people with a free web site, along with all the tools needed to build that site. Yahoo had acquired GeoCities, for more than $4 billion 10 years ago, during the 1999 gold rush of the dot com boom.

Notice to Customers(photo: a message on the GeoCities homepage)

The Yahoo GeoCities home page has been changed to reflect a message that reads “Sorry, new GeoCities accounts are no longer available.” That is followed by a message for existing customers which reads… “After careful consideration, we have decided to close GeoCities later this year. We’ll share more details this summer. For now, please sign in or visit the help center for more information.”

The Yahoo acquisition of GeoCities in 1999 involved a stock deal valued at around $4.6 billion. GeoCities was one of the first commercial domains to host online homepages, and there were more than 3.5 million sites hosted on its service, by the time Yahoo made the acquisition. The popularity of GeoCities dropped during the last few years, as social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and blogs grew in popularity.

DMOZ and other Stats for GeoCities April 2009 Putting on my domainer and SEO hat, I can’t help but look at the numbers associated with the GeoCities domain.

The stats may not be as massive as those seen for 2009 social network or blog hosting domains, but they are still impressive (but maybe not $4.6 Billion impressive).

Checking, the following stats on the GeoCities domain (which is 301 redirected to a Yahoo subdomain), would make many an SEOs and link builders mouths water.
1.8 million listings in DMOZ.
39,000 listings in Yahoo directory.
Ranked #73 (of all web sites) according to Compete, with over 12 million visitors per month.
Domain registered in December of 1995, and has been active ever since.

With 12 million plus visitors every month, surely someone was still using the website. Do you remember 1998ish GeoCities pages? If you were on the web in the late 1990s, you may remember the flashy and oftentimes horribly designed graphics, animated gif files of dancing babies, and lots of pages displaying shovels and signs reading under construction. Many of those pages were hosted on GeoCities.

For those that host their homepages inside online communities, there’s a lesson to be learned here. The closing down of GeoCities is one example of the importance in having your own domain name that features at least your basic information (especially if you run a business).

Communities like GeoCities may have served a purpose for you, and then you moved on to MySpace and/or Facebook, or some other Social Network Hosting Platform, but who’s to say that those sites, which include the pages you created on them, won’t someday disappear as well?

In the case of GeoCities, Yahoo is providing ways for people to save their data before the service is shut down, but web sites will lose all the links they had going to them, and along with that, any traffic that was coming from search.

I wish I had the foresight to recognize this when I created my first web site in 1994. Rather than registering a domain, I hosted it on one of the many free services that were available at the time.

The web site existed as a subdomain on a hosting companies primary domain. I believe that company went out of business in 1997 or 1998. Unfortunately for me, I also created the first version of planetchiropractic as a subdomain of free web site hosting provided by my (at that time) dial-up Internet provider.

That service was discontinued in the late 1990s, basically rendering all the webwork useless. Fortunately in 1998 I registered a handful of chiropractic related domains, and have been using the domain as our primary domain ever since.

I’m not saying that any of the current social network free hosting, or even the free blog hosting web sites, are going away anytime soon, but I’d say it’s a safe bet to have some sort of back up plan, in case any of them do. @ 8:27 pm | Article ID: 1240543654