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Yahoo! was one of the companies that pioneered search engine marketing. Back then it could be called directory marketing. It was one of the first companies to use paid inclusion and the company still relies on paid inclusion to some degree. But not as much as it did in the late 1990s.

Since purchasing Inktomi, Yahoo!s search technology, and Overture, which used to be WordTracker’s main competition, Yahoo! hasn’t really done anything innovative. They dropped Google as their primary search technology provider in 2004 and that kind of sealed the deal on their own fate. It might have been the biggest mistake Yahoo!s ever made. Since then they’ve done nothing but trail and slip.

Recently, however, Yahoo! announced that they’ve incorporated Twitter into their search results, providing Yahoo! searchers with real-time results. There’s nothing innovative about that. Both Bing and Google beat them to the punch. But Yahoo! did do it a little better.

Yahoo!s incorporation of Twitter into its search results includes an algorithmic formula for obtaining relevance to the search query. You’d have thought that Google would be the first to do that. No, it was Yahoo!

Now the question is, where will search engine marketing go from here? If searchers can rely honestly on relevant real-time search results, will that spawn a whole new industry of spam, or will it lead to greater search satisfaction? Will Yahoo!s reputation climb as a result of this new industry development?

My guess is that Bing and Google will respond with a relevance algorithm attached to their real-time search results as well. Search engine marketing, in the future, will likely be real-time based to some extent. But by how much?

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