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Yahoo's future role in search

Written by Huxley | 27-Oct-2009 15:41:00

Yahoo’s current position within the search marketplace has recently come under much scrutiny - especially following the "its you" campaign. Since Microsoft launched Bing back in June, a far more “Google-like” search tool, Yahoo has found itself a little out on a limb, on its own, providing what it describes as a “personally relevant search experience” rather than a search engine, as such. And as such, Yahoo! see themselves as much more than their search engine counterparts Google and Bing.

So much so, that they are ditching responsibility for their own Search results! The plan for the future being for the search infrastructure to be provided by Bing. Further to this and as a result of Yahoo being seen more as a “social” search engine they have begun a re-branding and extensive advertising exercise in an attempt to regain some of its flailing market share.

Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin confidently stated recently “It’s a shame Yahoo is abdicating that area [search]”. Yahoo!’s search traffic is not renowned for its relevance and quality; as a rough guide, it’s UK search volumes are somewhere between Google and Bing with the volume of clicks closer to that of Bing. Yahoo! seem content with their brand positioning and that it differs from that of Google and Bing. It is after all their USP, however despite the search homepage being an exciting and interesting consumer interface, without the search engine element performing effectively, the financial core and stability of the application comes into question. The Yahoo! search engine was essentially “doggy paddling” to try to keep afloat, let alone really challenging its competitors. Without the search distraction it should be able to focus on innovating and challenging them in other areas.

With the technical underpinnings of the search engine coming from the ever-proactive Microsoft, combined with the social-friendly interface, is the future looking bright for Yahoo!? Only time will tell.