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Search Wars Heat Up as Yahoo Drops Google

By Keith Regan
Feb 18, 2004 8:02 AM PT

Yahoo has given the boot to longtime partner Google, saying its own family of search tools, based on its own technology, will now return results to its users. The move puts an end to what had become an increasingly awkward relationship.

Search Wars Heat Up as Yahoo Drops Google

The severing of ties, which Yahoo hinted at earlier this year, also sets the stage for a far more aggressive head-to-head battle between the two companies for both paying advertisers and the eyes of the general Web-using public.

"They were already competing, but there was an element of the absurd to it since Yahoo users were still seeing Google results as well," Yankee Group analyst Rob Lancaster told the E-Commerce Times. "All the consolidation of 2002 led to this, and now there's little doubt that the two of them are going to be bitter rivals for dominance in the search space."

Goodbye Google

Yahoo said its move to integrate results from its own algorithmic search tools is just the first step in what it promises will be an ongoing rollout of new search features, ranging from personalization to localized search results.

The new search platform pulls together technology from Inktomi, which Yahoo owns, as well as Fast Search & Transfer and AltaVista, which were owned by Overture before Yahoo bought that company last year.

Half a Loaf

Yahoo said the changeover means its technology will be responsible for more than half of all searches conducted in the United States.

Jeff Weiner, senior vice president of Yahoo's search and marketplace businesses, noted that the company is ready to "change the game in search."

"Within the next few weeks and months, consumers will continue to see improvements to Yahoo's search technology in addition to advancements in search personalization and other user features," he said.

Search will be more closely tied with My Yahoo! customization features, Weiner added, enabling search results to be stored in the personal area of the portal. Yahoo also will use antispam technology to filter out pages or links that are obviously irrelevant.

Farewell to Friendliness

Hardly one to take such an event lying down, Google used the occasion to boast that its search engine now reaches some 6 billion Web pages, images and documents, a large jump from the 3.3 billion pages it indexed just over a year ago. Google said much of the increase came in the images category as more Web users posted digital photos online.

Google claimed the inclusion of more pages in its index will ensure more relevant search results and will help users seeking information that is off the beaten path. Co-founder Larry Page said the data underscores the fact that Web surfers "can find more information with Google than with any other search engine."

Just Beginning

Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy told the E-Commerce Times that Google's bragging-style offensive likely will escalate as the company prepares for what is expected to be a springtime initial public offering. Still, Google remains the underdog in some key areas.

"If Yahoo can keep those people on its portal right there when they search, their opportunities for driving revenue should be plentiful," Rashtchy said. "They've got an advantage in terms of eyeballs and an upper hand because of existing relationships with advertisers. Google is going back to what got it to this point, which is its technology."

Google also recently staged a low-key launch of a Friendster-like social networking site called Orkut, though analysts remain skeptical about that niche's ability to be a revenue- and profit-generator.

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