After 10 Years Firefox Abandons Google As Default Search Engine, Partners With Yahoo As US Default

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Citing a new search strategy of “promoting choice and innovation”, Firefox’ parent company Mozilla has announced a strategic partnership that will see Yahoo become the browser’s new default search engine in the United States.

Google had previously been Firefox’ default search engine since 2004. When their agreement came up for renewal this year, Mozilla states they took it as an “opportunity to review our competitive strategy and explore our options.”

In addition introducing a new default search engine for US users, another major change the company is making is ending its practice of having one single global search provider as its default.

Yahoo search will become the default Firefox search engine in the United States for at least the next five years, which is how long their partnership is for. This will begin in December, when Firefox plans to roll out an enhanced Yahoo search experience that’s said to feature a clean, modern interface.

In Russia, Yandex will become the default search engine for Firefox. In China, Baidu will become the default. For all other countries, the choice is essentially up to the user, as Firefox will offer 61 pre-installed search engines in 88 languages.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer took to the Yahoo blog today to express her enthusiasm over her company’s partnership with Firefox:

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve entered into a five-year partnership with Mozilla to make Yahoo the default search experience on Firefox across mobile and desktop. Mozilla is an inspirational industry leader who puts users first and focuses on building forward-leaning, compelling experiences. This is the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years and we’re so proud that Mozilla has chosen us as their long-term partner in search.

Mayer also announced the new look for Yahoo search that’s being brought to Firefox will be rolled out to all Yahoo users in early 2015. The new look is about more than just aesthetics, as its said to better leverage Yahoo’s content and personalization strategies.

With this partnership Yahoo has the potential increase its share of the search market, which has been sitting at around 10% according to comScore’s most recent numbers, while Google and Bing hold 67% and 19.5% respectively.

If you’re a Firefox user who prefers to use Google, don’t worry, it will still be a pre-installed search option.

Matt Southern
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides.
Matt Southern
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  • jrstark

    Google by far has the best results, there is no comparison. I’ve tried the others, and they are fine on common searches. But if you’re looking for something specific, stick with Google.

  • It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Depending on your niche and target audience, you may see a boost in Yahoo search traffic. If that’s the case, an investment in Bing Ads might make sense.

  • Hat tip to Yahoo. Deals like this one will provide at least SOME pressure on Google. Competition is always a good thing. As much as I love Google, it’s important to have competitors pushing Google to perform better. Well done, Yahoo. Keep it up.

  • It will be interesting to see how Yahoo grows in use as a lot of people use Firefox. I am sure analytics results for website traffic will increase from the yahoo search engine as well. I wonder if many users won’t even know they are using the yahoo search engine or how to change it. I like Nick’s comment. Bing Ads might not be a bad idea.

  • Sam Thomas

    I despair at this decision. I’ve got no idea what Yahoo is like now but I spoke to them a few years ago and the call ended with “You can have position 1 for that phrase for 6 months”. Can’t remember exactly the cost but it was below £200.

    But regardless of whether its the default or not, people will soon realise and switch back. Yahoo is a terrible search engine.

  • Haha. The Big shots at business. Firefox kicking out Google and going with Yahoo may be due to some better advantage for them after having weighed both search engines.
    Happy for them and lets see how the marriage goes, but to me Google should be more lucrative just an opinion though.

  • I’m all for anything that wrests near-monopolistic control away from Google – and their increasingly ‘walled-garden’ of who and what gets seen on the internet. But I question how impactful this will be given that untold millions of FireFox users ALREADY HAVE preference files on their computers with Google as the default.

    Downloading an update doesn’t override to make Yahoo the default once again, so it seems only 1st time users or truly clean installs will give Yahoo an edge. That will significantly delay the impact of this announcement — Unless both Yahoo and Mozilla launch a VERY LOUD PR campagin to convince the existing userbase to switch.

    • Glenn D. Bearsky

      Follow-Up: When the rollout date in December came around, FireFox *DID* notify me of the settings change to Yahoo with a pop-up window. So it appears just by using FireFox (and it’s built-in auto-update) will quickly and progressively help them get traction – and market share.

  • When I installed Google Chrome accidentally (I didn’t un-check the box when installing anti-virus software) the installer not only removed FireFox as my default browser but it also removed (not moved) it from my start menu. With that kind of disregard for Mozilla, it’s no wonder they dumped them. When I install FireFox it doesn’t remove anything from my start menu and asks if I want it as my default browser.

    Regarding the comment about sticking with Google Search, I think bing has better search results and I do a LOT of searches. I find things without a problem including niche searches. The comment that there is “no comparison” is just, plain wrong. Yahoo search results are not as good as either but at least, as far as I know, they pay their taxes in the US.

    If you like companies that do this, support them. I choose not to and prefer US companies that pay their taxes like the rest of us. At some point they’ll want the US government to bring the money back to the US and will want a reduction in the amount they have to pay to bring the money back. A tax holiday of sorts.

    Mozilla made a good move.

  • Gary Derbridge

    I have to agree, google give by far the best results! Want something specific stick with Google!