Friday, January 23, 2015

Google pushes Firefox users to dump Yahoo search

Possibly alarmed at recent data suggesting the company is losing search share to rival Yahoo following Firefox’s move to start offering it as the default setting, Google has started taking action to try to lure users into switching to its own offering.

The situation changed last month shortly after Firefox-creator Mozilla announced it’d done a deal to start offering Yahoo as the default engine for searches made in the box at the top of the browser, in the address bar, or on its start page.

The arrangement, which brought to an end a 10-year partnership between Mozilla and Google, has already helped Yahoo to increase its share of the U.S. search market by a couple of percentage points, taking it to its highest share since 2009, according to data released earlier this month.

In a bid to prevent the figures from turning into a worrying trend for the Mountain View company, Google has started pushing out messages encouraging Firefox users with Yahoo search to switch to its own search engine.

Google has, for example, been posting messages at the top of its search page that show up when a user on Firefox visits its site.

“Get to Google faster. Make Google your default search engine,” the message reads, followed by the options “sure,” which leads to instructions on how to change to Google, and “no thanks.”

The company also this week tweeted a message saying, “This one’s for all the Google Search-loving Firefox fans out there,” accompanied by animated instructions on how to change the default search engine to Google.

But it’s not only Google who’s making a play for users – Yahoo, too, has been urging users to upgrade to the latest version of Firefox, which features Yahoo as the default search engine.

Getting search traffic is the key to increasing income for both Google and Yahoo, as more eyes and clicks on sponsored results equals more ad revenue.

Mozilla’s decision to swap Google for Yahoo means that if you’re in the U.S. and downloading Firefox for the first time, Yahoo will now show up as your default search engine.

However, if you’re an existing Firefox user and you haven’t previously changed your search default, you’ll have been offered the chance to switch to Yahoo when you updated to Firefox 34.

It’s too early to say if Google’s not-so-subtle tactics to claw back a few users is paying off, though the company evidently feels it has to be a bit more proactive about its approach or risk losing more users to Yahoo.

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