Yahoo concerned about search share slipping (video)
Yahoo’s share of the online search market has been sliding gently since Microsoft introduced its revamped Bing last June. It’s something of a concern for Yahoo, which has teamed up with Microsoft on search advertising in an attempt to rival market leader Google. But it risks becoming an also-ran in the fast-moving business.
During a visit to Yahoo’s Silicon Valley headquarters last week, search chief Shashi Seth admitted to some worries, but said his service can bounce back if it can come up with features to lure new traffic and entice the 600 million customers already using its portal and e-mail service to try its search product as well.
Under the deal with Microsoft, which got regulatory approval last month, Bing provides the basic search results for Yahoo’s search engine, while Yahoo adds on its own features.
“What we are trying to do here is make sure that the Yahoo content properties and things that we do really well, like sports, are tightly integrated into that search experience and vice versa,” said Seth.
In practice, that means a list of movies and related celebrities when you do a search on an actor, or stats when you call up a sports star. A new app for iPhones called ‘Sketch-a-Search” — launched today — lets you draw a shape with your finger on a screen map to find out what restaurants are in the area. Yahoo is looking to expand the app to include other types of local data.
The overall philosophy revolves around Yahoo’s idea of the “web of objects” rather than the “web of pages”, according to Yahoo’s search gurus. Effectively that means Yahoo is focusing on the people, places and things that are most commonly searched for, and trying to make web content related to that as easy to access as possible.
“Basically, what we are saying is that every noun should have some amount of information stored in the Yahoo network and we should be able to access it appropriately,” said Seth. “It’s not just the ten blue links — it’s about people, places, things that we all care about and if we can allow the user to get to that as quickly as we can, then the user will be significantly more happy.”
Here’s Seth on how Yahoo can make this happen:
Yahoo needs to get some traction in the market soon to reverse recent losses. Last month Microsoft had 11.5 percent of the U.S. search marketplace, according to ComScore, up from 8 percent before Bing’s launch in June. Yahoo now has 16.8 percent of U.S. searches, compared to 20.1 percent before Bing. Google remains the out-and-out leader with a fairly steady 65.5 percent.