In light of the upcoming search alliance through which Yahoo searches will reportedly be powered by Microsoft's Bing, many speculate that Yahoo is going to shift its focus from search to content. But Dr. Ben Shahshahani, head of Search Science at Yahoo, explains that Yahoo will not be forgoing its search services; instead, it will be repositioning itself as a contextual search engine, giving users information before they search and using social data to better understand what searchers want.

Shahshahani explains that Yahoo will approach search from an integrated perspective, where it will strive to understand the relationship between a query and the text in potential results to provide relevant information to searchers. This sounds similar to the language of Google's recently acquired Metaweb, which aims to "reconcile multiple layers of information" to understand the links between keywords and consumers' intended use.

Yahoo will be deploying new tools to "understand the query" and offer appropriate content. One feature that helps the search engine discern users' intentions is the recently released time-sensitive search assistant. The tool makes suggestions to users based on the latest breaking news. Similarly, Yahoo has already launched a new blog, called the Upshot, which accommodates searchers by offering them quality news content related to trending topics.

These features cater to Shahshahani's claim that most searches are context-driven. "You may be reading an article, and that article might contain references to some things or objects that trigger your interest," he explains. Yahoo aims to extract the context of a given query to offer the most relevant results to users.

With major search engines including Google and now Yahoo investing heavily in the content they provide users to catch queries, it's becoming increasingly clear that marketers need to focus their energies on offering quality content to catch clicks. According to a study from the Bloom Group, businesses that generate 30 or more leads per month invest twice as much in researched content as do firms that generate less than 10 leads each month.