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Yahoo Unveils 5 New Search Features to Battle Google & Bing

Danny Goodwin
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Yahoo last night unveiled some changes to its search results, which we previewed last month. Yahoo says the goal of their "accordion" style results is to save people time finding what they're looking for, and does a good job of making better use of its Page 1 results, making certain info available for searchers without any need for scrolling.

Using Christina Hendricks as our main search query (as well as some other trending topics), let's see how Yahoo's new features stack up against the SERPs of Google and Bing.

1. Vertical Tabs

Yahoo's new search results include vertical tabs, and so far seem to mainly work for entertainment-based queries (musical artists, movies, celebrities), not so much news. For some searches, you'll receive tabbed options. Other searches (e.g., [clean energy], [Grilled Cheesus]) won't add much visual to your experience.

Overview

This box usually features the latest news on a celebrity or topic. Yahoo shows a top story, with some text from that story, and then offers a link beneath that to more stories. A few images of Hendricks are beneath that.

yahoo-overview.png

At the top of Google's SERPs, they offer a link to "News for Christina Hendricks" and then three current headlines. Then they also show images.

google-serp.png

On Bing, you'll notice a similarity between Yahoo's Overview pane and the box on Bing's SERP. The one difference is that instead of a latest news story, Bing highlights a link to her Wikipedia page. And just as Yahoo and Google do, Bing offers several images of Hendricks.

bing-serp.png

However, with a non-celebrity topic [e.g., depression], Yahoo only provides links to a total of four news stories, and there is no box (instead, you get ads). Interestingly, Google and Bing provide no links to any news stories about depression in their search results.

Videos

After you click on the Videos pane, Yahoo links you to four related videos on Hulu (two) and YouTube (two). To get to videos on Bing, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom (all four videos are exactly the same -- not surprising, because Bing powers Yahoo's organic results). Google's links to two videos (both on YouTube) might as well be at the bottom.

Twitter

Supposedly, these are the "Latest Tweets" about your news or entertainment search query. This option is definitely not real-time. A Twitter search for Christina Hendricks (one of Yahoo's Trending Topics) in no way resembles what appears when you search Twitter for Christina Hendricks.

yahoo-latesttweets.png
twitter-hendricks.png

No real-time Twitter results on Bing or Google SERPs for Hendricks.

Albums

For musical artists, (now we'll use Lady Gaga as an example), Yahoo shows links to Lady Gaga's official site, links to audio tracks, and links to more albums.

gaga-albums.png

In Bing's SERPs, they highlight Lady Gaga's official site, as well as a list of Events (something Yahoo could easily incorporate) that takes you to venue and ticket info. Bing also includes a recent Lady Gaga tweet.

gaga-bing.png

Google has served me two different SERPs in the last hour.

The first one (via toolbar search) highlights links to tracks first. And not much else of note. Pretty bland.

gagagoogle1.png

The second one (via Instant) returned a more visual result:

gagagoogle2.png

Not sure why Google's serving different SERPs here for the same query.

Below the Tabs

Beyond their accordion results, Yahoo's results are the typical URL links. Bing's results also have some interesting pieces in their SERPs that Yahoo could easily incorporate into their box. Rather than just a bunch of blue links, Bing separates with sections for Wallpaper and Biography. All the way at the bottom is a quick bio of Hendricks, which could easily become a Yahoo tab for celebs/public figures.

bingbio.png

2. Quick Apps

Yahoo is also offering what they call "quick apps." If you're looking for info on "The Social Network" you'll get an overview featuring reviews and local showtimes. Beneath that, there is an option to "Add Social Network" to your Netflix Queue.

netflix.png

Later, Yahoo says they plan to launch additional apps that "change the search paradigm from finding to doing."

3. Slideshows in Trending Topics

For Trending Now topics, Yahoo is displaying image slideshows (for select topics) above their regular results.

trendingnowslideshow.png

4. Image Search

Yahoo's new Image Search also received a makeover. It features slideshows and public photos from Flickr, Yahoo's content sites, and even Facebook albums when you're accounts are connected.

5. Mobile

Yahoo also says Android and iPhone users can now get faster, more sophisticated search results (entertainment, finance, and local), thanks to the latest HTML5 technology.

What About Advertising?

Yahoo says there are sponsorship opportunities for the new "accordion module," but no advertisers have signed on yet, Advertising Age reports.

"They could conceivably sponsor the whole module so that they can speak more directly to the consumer," Chi-Chao Chang, VP-search business for Yahoo, told Ad Age. "Or they could sponsor one portion of the module, just events or images, for instance."

Does it Matter?

Yahoo's Shashi Seth says there are just a few of their new features, with more coming soon. Overall, this change looks pretty good, especially for entertainment searches.

However, Google has a stranglehold on market share, and Bing may or may not have passed them, depending on who you believe. The core question is, are the results any better (can you find what you're actually looking for) than Google's? And what reason is there for regular Google or Bing users to switch over?

More importantly, what do you think of the new Yahoo results?


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