If you live or work or have anything to do with the internet in Japan, you may have marveled at how ubiquitous Yahoo! Japan is. From Yahoo! Japan BB to Yahoo! Japan Auctions to Softbank… it’s like ebay, verizon mobile, and comcast internet all rolled into one. Not to mention that they also have their own baseball team!
It is important to note that Yahoo! Japan is a separate company from Yahoo! USA and can do what it wants. This news does not say a lot about the relationship between Yahoo! and Google in the U.S., but may be a sign that Google Japan and Yahoo! Japan can coexist, especially if it will help cut Microsoft out of the picture.
Numbers I’ve seen don’t seem to show Bing making a dangerously large impact on the search market in Japan, however I have a feeling that many people in Japan choose not to change the default on Microsoft Internet Explorer, still the most popular browser in Japan.
Both Yahoo! Japan and Google Japan have issued press releases announcing the change. This will not have much effect on your everyday user for whom any search engine will return relevant-enough results, but it may have a large effect on the growing SEO industry in Japan.
The ranking algorithm will change somewhat when Google takes over so it will be interesting to compare how traffic to Japanese language sites changes. I also don’t know how much emphasis current SEO companies in Japan have been putting on the big G amidst the dominance of the big Y, but it could get interesting as Japanese webmasters start to prepare their sites.
This is not the first time the two search giants have teamed up. Google provided Yahoo! Japan with its search engine from 2001 to 2004, so this is more of a return to the way things were 6 years ago. Google may be customized to accomodate Yahoo Japan’s uniqueness and specific search needs.
Google’s announcement specifically mentions ads, meaning Google Adwords ads will be featured on Yahoo! Japan’s search results and will probably get a great shot in the arm from new clients and investors, however for the time being the data and advertisers for both ad delivery systems will be kept separate.
It may even be a relief for Japan’s number one content provider (Yahoo Auctions, Yahoo Chiebukuro (question and answer site), Yahoo Shopping…) to be able to outsource its search needs and focus more on the moneymaking aspects of the operation.
As I said, this is big news for SEO companies, and some savvy webmasters, but will not really be a big change for your average search consumer.