Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Topic Suggestions Add Search Assistance

For some time now I have primarily used Google as my search engine of choice. Mostly because it is clean and does an excellent job of searching. Yahoo used to be the king of the Internet search, but now runs second to Google, with Microsoft coming in third.

I used to, meaning years ago, go to Yahoo for most of my searches. But when Yahoo decided they wanted to be known more as a news and community portal and changed their home page interface, “search” started to feel like an afterthought when you visited their site. Even today the look of the page suggests search as a feature as opposed to an application.

But Yahoo is not sitting still, and on the heels of some MSFT search improvements, this Tuesday they announced search improvements of their own. According to the company, the redesign is attempting to predict user intent more effectively. With it they hope to get searchers to the results they are looking for more quickly. Search Assist gives consumers real-time query suggestions as well as related topics and concepts that have an association with the keywords being submitted.

"We know that consumers want a complete answer, not a bunch of links, and the changes we've made are focused on getting people to the best answer -- whether it be a Web link, photo, video, or music clip -- in one search," Vish Makhijani, general manager and senior vice president of Yahoo Search, said in a statement.

You can see how Search Assist opens a drop down menu of suggestions and related concepts for further exploration around the search topic.

Here are some examples:

If you were to start typing Tacoma, the world may be thinking of trucks, but the News Tribune comes to mind as well.

In the global community it looks like the Business Examiner comes out on top. If you take their suggested link it is our local publication that is listed first.

If you are looking for Tacoma blogs, how can Kevin Freitas not come to mind.

I think this is a very interesting new feature, and suggests once again that competition spurs innovation. Will I now use Yahoo search more frequently? Maybe. One thing going for it, when I did a vanity search on "Andrew Fry" I made the top entry. On Google I don't show up until the fifth and sixth links. Hmmmm...

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