What is going on?
Well, there has always been a little incest between the search engines. MSN currently uses LookSmart and Inktomi. Yahoo and AOL both use Google and, of course, so does Google. So the current market has Google providing results for 3 of the big 4 search sites. This creates a hefty unbalance, and the industry has been holding its breath waiting for the hatchet to come down.
Yahoo buys Inktomi
It looks like Yahoo has made the first step. By buying Inktomi, Yahoo could potentially use results that they own, instead of paying for them “per click” from Google. Another scenario would have Yahoo combining Google and Inktomi results with its own directory results, making it into a meta search engine. Yahoo’s purchase of Inktomi also gives Yahoo a great paid inclusion program. Thus, not only does the purchase have the potential to make Yahoo into a better search site, but it will also make them money immediately.
Overture buys Altavista and AllTheWeb
Overture buying up Altavista and AllTheWeb is not so clear cut. Overture is a pay-per-click search engine that makes the bulk of its money by posting its results (sponsored sites) on Yahoo and MSN. It currently uses Inktomi to “fill up” any results where there are no bidders. Of course, on Yahoo and MSN the Inktomi results never show up (because they don’t pay).
So what will Overture do with its two new acquisitions? Well, Google is Overture’s only real rival in the pay-per-click arena. Many people think that Overture bought AllTheWeb to compete with Google in the search engine spidering arena. Another reason for the acquisition is that Overture can cash in on Altavista and AllTheWeb’s paid inclusion programs. Overture will probably continue to focus on their pay-per-click, while using the eyeballs at Altavista and the technology at AllTheWeb to improve their own services. They almost certainly will replace the Inktomi results (which they do not own) with either one of their new purchases.
What about MSN?
MSN hasn’t bought any big search engine recently. What will they do in the future? Many people are speculating that MSN will drop Inktomi now that their main rival Yahoo owns it. This is probable in the long term, but I don’t think they will make any bold moves soon. MSN recently pointed out that Google is definitely a rival, so it looks like they are targeting their crosshairs there. Another possibility is that they become better buddies with Overture, using Altavista or even AllTheWeb’s search results instead of Inktomi’s. They could also buy up Wisenut, another spidering search engine, which is owed by LookSmart.
Only time will tell
One thing that I think is for sure (if anything is in this industry), is that a good ranking in Inktomi’s listings is going to be a lot more valuable once Yahoo incorporates it, so get your site tweaked. A site that has been optimized for Inktomi will do better in the search engine results.
Next issue, I will update you on other changes in the industry.
Shawn Campbell is the co-founder and Chief Search Engine Optimizer at Red Carpet Web Promotion, Inc.