At a recent South Florida Interactive Marketing Association (SFIMA) meeting, there was a panel of representatives, one from each of the 4 main search engines. When they were asked a set of questions, geared toward unveiling the differences between them, I gained insight into how Google, Yahoo, MSN, and ASK want to be viewed.
Google knows if they provide value, the ad benefit will come. They are all about the end user and making marketing more efficient for all marketers. For example, dMark radio ads, print ads, etc. Google wants to be viewed as a new product. I think this is smart simply because it is what people want to hear (the optimistic people preoccupied with the Internet or the world of Internet Marketing).
ASK really pushes their search tools. They are replacing brand with value, using Smart Answers, the Binoculars Site Review tool, etc., also ASK City which replaced ASK local. They also offer Narrow Your Search and Expand Your Search on the right of the SERPs. I like that they always use this space to offer related search results for a more interesting user experience. Relevancy and ease of use are important to ASK.
MSN is also trying to build information that is relevant and quick to the end user. With the MSN search experience for entertainment and news and Live.com being the customizable search portal built for the user, it’s no secret that MSN sees themselves long term as more of a function integrated into everyday life from products to search.
Yahoo is focused on social search. From Flickr, del.ici.ous, My Web, etc. it seems Yahoo believes the concept of friends will grow their social search network. And with Flickr geo-targeting and Y labs geo-referenced photos, Yahoo from a consumer perspective is the largest local destination on the web. And now with smart phones in your pockets, there is no reason not to use Yahoo mobile search.