WSJ reports on Yahoo’s plans to drop Google as its primary search technology as part of a larger plan to take on Google:
First, Yahoo is expected to dump Google as the primary search technology on its site within a few months, a move that could come around the time Google is preparing a long-awaited initial stock offering. Some marketing firms, which help advertisers manage their online campaigns for search-related ads, say they have been told Yahoo will switch from Google to its own technology as early as the first quarter.
Second, Yahoo wants to combine personalization and customization features to extend the usefulness of searches. Third, it plans to expand its use of “paid inclusion,” whereby it frequently surveys a participating merchant’s sites for the most up-to-date information and includes those findings in users’ search results. Merchants pay Yahoo from 15 cents to more than $1 when visitors click on a link for that merchant.
The strategy is not simply to match what Google does now but to add features its rival can’t easily match. “We’re not going to beat the competition by being the competition,” says Jeff Weiner, the company’s senior vice president in charge of its search and marketplace services. “We’re going to beat the competition by being Yahoo.”
Yahoo isn’t discussing many of its search plans in detail. But some steps toward independence can already be seen on the shopping section of Yahoo’s site, which is now using Inktomi’s technology. Type in “digital camera,” for example, and the site shows pictures of specific cameras along with their prices, flanked by “shopping tools” that allow users to quickly call up price comparisons, fuller specifications and user reviews. By contrast, the same search on Yahoo’s front page, which still uses Google’s technology, returns a familiar text-based list of links, starting with those sponsored by retailers and followed by other camera-related sites ranked by popularity.
In the future, Yahoo officials say, searches could become much more personalized. They could be tailored to return results that reflect users’ past Web-surfing behavior, for example, or preferences or interests they list in a profile.
News.com has more on Yahoo’s search plans. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are the three players to watch in the search engine space. The period leading up to Google’s IPO is likely to see a lot of action.