Search engine Yahoo lost ground to its competitors in the third quarter of 2009 as its revenues dropped 12 percent compared to the third quarter of 2008.

The company’s quarterly financial releases indicated that search revenue was down 19 percent compared to a year ago, indicating that valuable clicks may have moved elsewhere. Search engine optimization (SEO) will certainly change as a result of this downturn, and SEO professionals could shift resources away from placing Yahoo results.

Yahoo’s declining numbers were announced just weeks after the company rolled out an aggressive new advertising campaign and just days after it was revealed that it is involved in renewed negotiations with Microsoft over a possible merger of search functions, which would be an larger shift in the search engine optimization (SEO) landscape.

The company’s CEO, Carol Bartz, was not present for a conference call with investors and journalists, and CFO Tim Morse answered questions about the financial releases, according to Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land. Sterling characterized Yahoo’s stance on the new information as "tentative" and "uncertain."