Yahoo enters the great race to conversational search

Published on
by Brafton Editorial
Yahoo's recent investment in a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University signals a swift move toward semantic search.

Google is by far the search engine favorite. As of January, the behemoth accounted for 67.3 percent of all explicit core searches, according to comScore. This leaves only 18.2 percent left over for Microsoft sites (Bing) and 10.8 percent for Yahoo. If recent partnerships and investments are any indicator, Yahoo aims to reclaim some of those queries with smarter online answers, and marketers should pay attention as the search engine race unfolds to see whether these moves are effective. It could require a shift in SEO and content marketing strategies.

Yahoo’s $10 million investment in contextual search

Yahoo may not come up in conversation about semantic search, but its $10 million “InMind” partnership with Carnegie Mellon University could change that. The relationship will last five years, during which time Carnegie Mellon’s machine learning and human-computer interaction researchers will work to make personalized search a reality for Yahoo.

“Researchers can explore new approaches to understanding human behavior through machine learning.”

“We like to think of this as part of a grand-scale living laboratory where researchers can explore new approaches to understanding human behavior through machine learning and interface technologies,” wrote Chief Scientist and Head of Yahoo Labs Ron Brachman in a press release announcing the partnership.

Mayer’s had her sights set on semantic since 2009

Search Engine Land’s Greg Sterling points out that Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer has been salivating over an intuitive, hands-off search experience since long before she took over the company. Back in 2009, as Google’s Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, Mayer told IDG News the perfect search engine would be able to understand questions and ideas, phrases and concepts and then return truly coherent answers.

With the “InMind” partnership established, it appears Mayer is moving full speed ahead with the same end-goal in mind: To create advanced search experiences.

Yahoo and Google are competing to develop technology for semantic search

Choosing the right partners for the perfect search storm

At the same time, Yahoo is building up the search functions it already has by teaming with Yelp. Brafton recently covered the budding relationship that will give the engine better information about local businesses to more reviews into geo-targeted results.

Yahoo could be stacking its deck with the right players and technology to give mobile internet users the best possible answers. If the company manages to bring better functionality to its platform, it could possibly tip the balance out of Google’s favor and force brands to think about Yahoo first (or at least a close second) when optimizing web content.

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