News this week from Microsoft, Google and Yahoo has industry experts chiming that the search engine wars are indeed heating up. Microsoft launched its first ever homegrown search engine, Yahoo! released a more intuitive search service known as Y!Q, and Google upped the ante in local search by making Google! Local a production service available via the homepage.
Each of these services is seeking to enhance the consumer experience in some way, something which may or may not work out well for each major search engine.
“The challenge is not only getting people to the site and getting them to use it once, but, to a certain degree, changing their habits,” Gary Price, search analyst for SearcEngineWatch.com, said. “People are creatures of habit and they tend to do things a certain way and use what they´ve become familiar with.”
Each of the search engines has its strengths. Microsoft’s ‘question answering” is currently the best, according to industry experts, while Yahoo’s local search is currently the most powerful and accurate. As a result, nobody should be surprised by the recent announcements from Yahoo and Google, designed to reinforce their users’ existing surfing habits.
“This is the infancy, or even pre-infancy, of search engines becoming answer engines for certain types of factual questions,” Price said.
The online advertising market is growing rapidly, driven primarily by paid search over the last several years. According to market researcher JupiterResearch, advertisers are expected to spend $13.8 billion online in 2007, with paid search forecast to grow 30 percent compounded annually from now until then.