Yahoo finds new riches in search engine

Nearly a year after its US counterparts went live with a new Internet search engine, Yahoo Australia has followed suit. The company last week went live with a new search function on its site which it says is much faster and better in quality for users and advertisers alike.

Over the past year Yahoo has paid more attention to its search business. Part of this has involved moving its internal development staff away from areas such as mail and classifieds into the search R&D team. "In recent times activity and usage of search show it is doing well. Hence the focus specifically on the search team," said Yahoo producer Peter Crowe.

One of the new features that users will immediately note is the separation of paid search results. This means customers clearly know when they get a response from an organisation or site which has paid to have its keyword at the top of a search results page. For example, if an Internet user puts the search term 'car' in the search engine, Yahoo will first return the top 'Sponsor Results' followed by the top 20 Web non-paid result.

Crowe says the search engine is friendly to both advertisers and users. The banner ads that now appear on the site are specifically targeted to the search term used. If 'car' was the search term then the ad would relate to cars and not, for example, boats or caravans. If there are no ads targeted to that search term, then no banner ad will appear.

As for the displaying of ads, Flash ads on the search pages are a thing of the past. Crowe said removing the Flash ads and using only top banner ads speeds up the loading of the pages.

Crowe said the search function is getting better overall because companies, through paid sponsorship, are funding the continual development of it.

While paid sponsorship may irk some surfers, he said they serve as a great marketing tool for small to medium businesses which don’t have an extensive advertising budget. By paying for keywords, businesses can have their site information displayed instantly, and only pay Yahoo if someone clicks on the link to their site. Yahoo tracks this information and the advertiser is billed at a later date.

"This is great for small businesses who don’t have a large advertising budget. This way they can reach a great audience," Crowe said. "Paid search advertisements are going through the roof," he added.