Many have heard the news of the merger between Microsoft and Yahoo!. The merger takes effect in 2010 and activities related to it will continue for several years until the two are fully one. Microsoft and Yahoo! have both been two of the major search engine players but always several steps behind the industry giant, Google. So what will the future hold for Yahoo! as a result of this merger? What does the future hold for Yahoo! in general? What will it mean for Google? Let’s examine a few of the key advantages Yahoo! stands to acquire as a result of this.

Yahoo! will now be able to focus on getting the word out about its new innovations. With the additional resources provided by Bing and the fact that it can now focus on the public (advertisers and users), Yahoo! can improve ways to let people know what’s new. This is crucial if they intend to create a user base that is comparable to Google’s.

Yahoo! will get to focus more on its advertising market. While having a powerful search engine is the envy of any company in the industry, no one survives unless there is a healthy advertising revenue stream. While the rise in revenue from advertising will no doubt be beneficial to Yahoo!, advertisers are likely to see increases in pay-per-click (PPC) rates as more compete for the same keywords.

The merger leverages the robustness of the Bing interface. Bing has taken the approach of being a decision engine instead of only a search engine. Think of a Bing search as one that produces results related to the query but grouped in subcategories. What this means is that if you search for something like a city, the results will include categories such as images, hotels, and weather along with the generic keyword results. Bing’s 3-column search engine result page (SERP) layout places these related subcategories conveniently along the left-hand column for quick access. Bing’s SERP layout has drawn the attention and approval of many and will no doubt help to bring more users to Yahoo! when the two companies complete their merger.

It is a cost-effective solution for advancing Yahoo!’s search technology. Over the last few years, Yahoo! has lagged behind with technological innovations in its back-end search engine. Yahoo! took an outsourcing approach by joining forces with Bing and letting them place more focus on these areas. The merger allows Yahoo! to continue improving the user search experience. For example, Yahoo! is providing a tool called Search Pad that allows users to save URLs and notes on their searches. It’s a great tool if you are doing research and is easier to find the information that you need later than compared to traditional bookmarks.

Yahoo! will continue to develop on an object-oriented approach to searches. Object-oriented search is much like a newspaper. The idea is that when a user searches, everything he or she needs to know related to that search will be fed at one time. While other search engines also have object-oriented approaches to returning SERP results, Yahoo! and Bing will provide results that are related to the local area of the search origination as well as information that is current.

What does all of this mean for Google? One of the biggest hurdles for Yahoo! to overcome is getting users to change their search habits. Critics of Yahoo!’s direction claim that Google has such a large user base that it will take years to see any shift in market share if it happens at all. However just the fact that Yahoo! is in the current news stirs the curiosity of the Internet community. These curious users will more than likely visit Yahoo to see what is happening and possibly discover their new tools and user experience improvements. If Yahoo! can create the need for new personalized innovations like with their “All About Y!ou” initiative then it could be a formidable Google competitor in the very near future.

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