Yahoo! and Facebook in search talks

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Yahoo may be planning to walk away from its Bing deal with Microsoft, as talks are rumored to be underway between the former search kingpin and Facebook.  The story broke in the Sunday Telegraph, which says that Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is talking with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, about working together more closely.

This wouldn’t be the first time they’ve worked together, of course, as Yahoo! and Facebook have teamed up numerous times in the past on relatively small projects.  If the reports are correct, however, then this would be the first major collaboration between them and could lead to a new search option to rival Google.

A deal would seem to be win-win for both sides.  Facebook could increase its search options and visibility as well as offer more targeted and widespread advertising options.  Yahoo! would gain a huge number of search users through the deal, moving it once again back into the big leagues of search.

Further, since search algorithms learn by doing, the more people who’re using a search option, the better it gets and one thing Yahoo! needs is more users to grow.

Meanwhile, CNet gets into depth about what Facebook could gain, delving into recent remarks by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg about growing the site’s search capabilities and options.   Back in September, Zuckerberg said:

“We do a billion queries a day and we aren’t even trying. Mostly trying to find people or brand pages or apps. There is a big opportunity in search, evolving to giving a set of answers to a specific question and Facebook is uniquely positioned to do that. For example, ‘Which of my friends or friends of friends work in a company I might like to work at?’ At some point we will do it.”

Yahoo! could be the way they accomplish some of that.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch brings a little more realism to the picture and says that the opportunity might be good for Facebook, but that Yahoo! isn’t likely to gain much that they haven’t already gotten from Microsoft.

However you look at it, it is an interesting deal and it will be something that could change the way we use the Web.