In the game of global land grab, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) knows that you win some and lose some. The online juggernaut announced that it is replacing Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) MSN as the paid-search provider in New Zealand's Xtra portal. Telco giant Telecom Corp. of New Zealand (NYSE:NZT) runs Xtra, and it will now team up with Seven Network and Yahoo! to run the site.

Cheer. Celebrate. Or, alternately, be a realist and point out that this follows news that South Korea's second-most-popular Internet site was dismissing Yahoo! for its paid-search needs in favor of rival Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). That's a big deal, because Korea's Daum had been with Yahoo! for more than three years.

This kind of tug-of-war is to be expected in the competitive field of attracting online eyeballs. The stakes are higher in search than in more conventional content channels, because it's the juiciest part of the online advertising experience, since visitors are hungry for direction and especially susceptible to advertisers' suggestions.

Striking up multiyear partnerships is great, but this also explains why companies have been quick to snap up popular websites in the past. Once you own a site -- like Google owns YouTube or Yahoo! owns Flickr -- you never have to compete against yourself to win that site's contextual marketing and search business.

Markets like New Zealand and South Korea are naturally smaller than the U.S., but establishing an early presence overseas is critical. Foreign countries offer the greatest opportunities for accelerated growth. Yahoo! wouldn't be such a big hit in Japan if it hadn't struck an early partnership. The same can be said of Google's recent struggles in China.

So even if a big win in New Zealand and a heartbreaking loss in South Korea won't amount to much in today's income statement, the dot-com heavies are sowing the seeds of future growth wherever there is fertile soil. Hopefully, it will be a harvest worth waiting for.

Yahoo! has been recommended by David Gardner for his Stock Advisor subscribers. Microsoft is a selection in Inside Value, and Telecom Corp. of New Zealand is anIncome Investorpick. Follow the preceding links to try either newsletter free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has stamped his passport plenty over the years, even though he has never been to New Zealand or South Korea. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.