The search engine Yahoo will now incorporate Yelp customer ratings in the select listings on its results pages. This partnership was originally announce last month by the Wall Street Journal, but was formally announced by Yahoo early this March. For these select organizations which merit the Yelp inclusion, they can expect to see the golden star ratings as well as possibly high quality photos of various facets of the company or product.
This new partnership between the big Y companies should help enhance both companies’ importance in local business communities. The new listings are expected to be accessible for desktop users as well as the increasingly important mobile market segment. The synergy of search and local reviews could power new growth for both companies by fostering new ad sales to local businesses on both platforms.
Both companies were performing extremely well in terms of revenue. In the last quarter of 2013, Yelp averaged 120 million visitors to its sites each month. Yelp increased its annual revenue by 69% in 2013 to $233 million. While still trailing the industry giant Google by a significant margin as well as Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo still expanded its revenue by six percent in 2013 to $1.7 billion. The terms of their partnership have so far not been disclosed by either party.
Yelp currently provides key business details like business names, addresses, and operating hours. For more specialized businesses, Yahoo will also display information regarding movie times and menus. Some or all of this information could also be integrated into Yahoo’s search engine results pages.
Yahoo is, of course, trying to steal some market share from Google, but it is questionable whether this latest move will facilitate that. While this is likely to improve Yahoo’s profile in some communities, Google has already beat Yahoo to the punch, by including similar information on their listings for some time prior to Yahoo. It is yet to be seen if Yahoo can leverage its new role in local business community into greater financial rewards.
Yahoo also seems to be following Google in other respects as well. The CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, who was previously a Google executive, has also announced that Yahoo will integrate contextual search, which uses the meaning of whole phrases to determine search intent. This has already been implemented in Google’s Hummingbird update and is intended to assist users of voice activated search on smartphones and tablets.
Yahoo currently has a 10.8% share of the American search market, which is significantly less than the 20% it held in 2009. It’s share of U.S. online ad sales dropped from 15% in 2009 to almost 8% in 2013. Mayer also hopes to help Yahoo regain its leadership position by competing with other tech companies through product innovation, talent acquisition and eliminating unproductive personnel. She has publicly stated that she hopes to renew the company through strategic partnerships and developing new mobile apps to take advantage of the burgeoning mobile market.