Search engine giant Yahoo has some interesting news for Bing, Google and nearly two-billion internet users worldwide. Search is changing again. Yahoo is fearlessly calling their new breakthrough search feature “the fastest thing you have ever seen.”
The new Yahoo search feature, which debuted in beta this week, is called Search Direct and appears to take some inspiration from Google Instant – a search enhancement that instantaneously displays suggested results as the user types their request. Note: Google Instant was introduced on September 8th of last year.
Much like Google Instant, the Yahoo Search Direct feature presents instant search results as the user types. The results come in the form of a drop-down box that displays a top-ten list of instant search result options. But Yahoo isn’t calling these instant search results by their common name. To Yahoo, these are not search results or mere links. They’re answers. And Yahoo execs are betting that instant access to answers will draw the interest of the searching public and keep the clicks coming.
“I want you to remember three words: answers, not links,” said Shashi Seth, Yahoo’s Vice President for Search, to a gathering of tech news reporters at a recent demonstration of the new search feature in San Francisco.
The new Yahoo Search Direct marketing is furthering the idea of answers over links by calling the development “a powerful new feature that provides direct access to the answers and sites you need – with fewer clicks and fewer hassles.”
One of the most interesting aspects in this is that Yahoo says it can come up with new ad formats that fit in the Search Direct box. This could get interesting if Yahoo wanted to keep this revenue stream separate from BING because currently they handle their PPC search ads.
Yahoo suggests that Search Direct is superior to Google Instant Search, by saying that Google’s search enhancement only displays search results pages faster, while the Yahoo feature strives to deliver quick, relevant answers for common search interests across a spectrum of categories.
One unique feature that separates Search Direct from Google Instant is that Search Direct shows the searcher the top ten hottest-trending topics before you even begin searching (this feature activates when you put your cursor in the search field box). Yahoo calls this a “unique results format” and “a beautiful way to take back your time.”
Initially, Yahoo Search Direct has answers for a limited number of search categories: music, movies, weather, celebrities, athletes, news items, shopping, some local information by city, and information on stocks by ticker symbol.
Since their highly-publicized merger with Microsoft and Bing, the case for Yahoo’s relevancy among the big-three search engines has been in question. Some early reviewers suggest that the new feature might even put Yahoo search in direct conflict with Bing. But engineers at Yahoo clearly believe that the business of the day is re-engineering search functions to better the user experience.
“People still come to Yahoo and search on Yahoo,” said Yahoo chief product officer Blake Irving. Yahoo is confident that they have re-engineered the search experience to match the changing needs of searchers around the globe. For Yahoo, the future is now.
At present, Search Direct is live on search.yahoo.com and other domestic Yahoo search properties. Search Direct is not available via the main Yahoo homepage at this time. According to Shashi Seth, the Search Direct experience will soon be native to all Yahoo-based properties.