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Yahoo Search Gets Major Overhaul

Posted on 10.01.2007
In our August 2007 issue, Website Magazine detailed the intricacies of Google's Universal Search. Since then, has been touting its own version of universal search and now Yahoo is in the mix - in a big way. A recent retooling of the Yahoo search function has revealed a Search Assist feature, where a drop-down menu helps users refine their searches quickly from a list of recommendatins, and now Yahoo is including links to video, audio and photos in their standard search results. Yahoo will tap photo-sharing site Flickr where users tag photos with keywords, bookmarking site and Yahoo Answers to help with search results. The goal is to get relevant results to users with one search - according to Harris Interactive only 15 percent of adults find what they are looking for on the first search.

Another new feature of Yahoo search, Yahoo Search Shortcuts, will include some Web 2.0-style information, including ratings and reviews, official websites and other information relevant to searches for popular categories like events, music, movies, travel, sports, shopping, businesses and restaurants. A search for "chicago restaurants" reveals an ability to filter by category (Italian, Mexican, American), Neighborhood (Near North, Gold Coast, Loop) and top user rated (Giordanos Pizzeria, Lou Malnati's Pizza, Pizzeria Uno ... yes, we Chicagoans love our deep dish pizza).

This is a step in the right direction for Yahoo. However, it appears that some fine-tuning is still needed. After your original search, there is a delay between when you enter your search term(s) and the drop-down menu appears for subsequent searches. If, like me you enter a term and quickly hit the "Enter" button, the drop-down menu doesn't have time to make suggestions before sending you to the results page. Also, the universal aspect doesn't seem to be quite there yet. For example, a search for "cubism" shows no photo results, but a search for "pablo picasso" turns up several images. A search for Web video phenomenon "lonelygirl15" shows no video results whatsoever. Of course most of the links on the page will bring you to one of the videos, but isn't the point to get the video - or at least a thumbnail of the video - right there on the results page? On the plus side, a search for "3:10 to Yuma" returns reviews and a link to a trailer.

In the end, this is a clear indication that search is becoming truly universal - not just with Google but across the board. So, if you haven't already, it's time to tag your images, create video and get involved in social tagging and media. The future of your search results depends on optimizing your content for all types of media.
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