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AOL Renews With Google

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AOL has renewed its agreement with Google for search results in a new multiyear deal. Terms of the deal and its exact length haven't been disclosed.

Google's last deal with AOL was signed in May 2002 and called multiyear then, lasting apparently for 17 months. AOL suggested that this latest deal goes for much longer than that.

"This one is really multiyear," said AOL spokesperson David Theis.

The agreement sees AOL going against the recent grain of major search sites looking to own search technology. Yahoo acquired Inktomi and is in the process of buying Overture in order to have completely in-house web search capabilities. MSN said earlier this year that it would develop its own technology and just yesterday announced that it would no longer outsource from LookSmart for some listings as of mid-January 2003.

AOL's renewal with Google sees the company showing continued faith that by partnering with a major search brand, it can retain users rather than lose them to that brand.

"Having the most popular search company power our search, so popular that 'googling' has entered the lexicon, increases member loyalty," Theis said.

Theis wouldn't comment specifically about whether AOL had sought formal bids from others for the search contract, though he acknowledged that the company would always talk with various search players.

The deal sees Google continuing to power web search results for AOL sites in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Australia and Canada. Google also provides paid listings to sites in the US, Japan and Canada. Overture still provides paid listings to some AOL European sites, such as in the United Kingdom.

Google also provides search results to the AOL-owned sites of Netscape and CompuServe. In a new development, Google's paid listings will also be integrated into AOL Yellow Pages listings.

AOL Search Features

In conjunction with its renewal deal, AOL announced some new enhancements to its AOL Search service. However, some of these "new" changes appear to have already been on the service prior to today's announcement.

Be aware that AOL Search comes in two flavors, an external version that anyone can use and an internal version that's enhanced for those accessing it via the AOL software. Not all features are offered on the external version. Here's a rundown:

Smart Box Search Tool: For those using the latest AOL software, this automatically offers query suggestions as they type a query into the address bar/search bar field.

Image Search: Launched in June, this provides the ability to search for images across the web, powered by Google Images. Use the "Images" tab at the top of the AOL Search home page.

News Search: Brings back matches from major news wire services. Available via the "News" tab.

People Search: Allows AOL users to search within AOL chat rooms, message boards, member home pages and discussion groups. Available via the "People" tab.

Local Search: For members using the internal version of AOL Search in the US, this will automatically show local businesses, services and stores near your area. AOL does this by using your ZIP code, which is knows from your member data, to query its AOL Yellow Pages listings. It's an expansion of the former "Find It In Your Area" feature rolled out last year.

Hot Searches: An expansion of a former feature showing popular member queries. A box on the AOL Search home page shows top queries, and you can also choose to see more detail of top queries in various categories from the apparently new Hot Searches page.

Open In New Window: Another feature added earlier this year, it's a small icon that appears near the title of a listing, allowing the listing to be opened in a new window.

Search Headlines

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