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Yahoo Universal Search: Enter Yahoo Search Assist
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Earlier today, Yahoo (YHOO) announced the release of Search Assist, what they are calling "the most advanced assistance technology available on the Web, and the integration of audio, video and photos directly into the search results to help make Web search effortless for consumers." Hmm sounds like we've been to this dance before. Can you say Google Universal Search? What is interesting about this move by Yahoo is that last week Microsoft announced updates to their Live Search to provide a richer more relevant user experience. In May, Google launched Universal Search incorporating the use of images, video, blog, book listings etc. to their search results. The thing is, is that ASK was the pioneer in all of this with their ASK X interface last December which translated into the ASK 3-D experience in June.

The fact is Yahoo had to do something. The other engines have been stepping it up for the past few months while Yahoo has failed to launch any new search features. According to Yahoo, this "New Yahoo Search" was designed to better understand user intent and get consumers to the results they are looking for in one search. I'm all for that. I have seen results get better in Live Search, I have seen them get better in ASK and in Google, but over the past few months I would have to say that results have gotten worse in Yahoo. One thing of particular interest is that we have noticed that Yahoo does not rank blog posts that well, even if they are the most relevant page for a particular subject. I would expect this to change.

The focus on the user experience should always be what the engines work towards. I use search to find information and when I conduct a query in Yahoo or ASK or Google I expect to find what I am looking for. Unlike many users I will scroll pages to find relevant results, however unlike many users I will use multiple search engines to find the answer to my queries. The fact that Yahoo is working towards improving my user experience is great. Just don't get complacent and try to predict that my using habits are like everyone else's. They're not.

Yahoo Search Assist might be new for Yahoo, but it is very reminiscent of what ASK and the other engines have been doing for a while now. According to the official Yahoo Press Release:
In addition to the new Search Assist feature, Yahoo! Search has also introduced multimedia integration including video, audio and photos (see diagram 2) directly into the search results, allowing consumers to get their answer -- whether it's a Web link, photo, video or music clip -- without leaving the page.
Sounds good to me.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, October 02, 2007  
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