Yahoo today rolled out changes designed to speed up and enhance its search experience, marking its most significant departure yet from its traditional roots as a web directory.
The most noticeable change is a cleaner, tabbed interface, meant to speed up search results and provide easier access to some speciality searches, such as news, yellow page listings, and a new image search function. Yahoo is also introducing a beta version of a shopping search service.
The new design features fewer graphical ads and a longer "universal" search box that appears throughout the Yahoo network of vertical sites. There's also a new "search start" page with an uncluttered interface that uses vertical tabs such as people search, yellow pages, maps, news, and so on.
Replacing the graphical ads are new textual ad boxes appearing down the right side of search result pages. According to Yahoo, these textual ads may include paid listings from Overture or other providers.
At press time, it's not yet clear whether these additional text ads will be provided by Google or some other ad network. Apparently, the deal between Yahoo and Overture gives Overture-provided links certain exclusive positions within Yahoo search results. Yet the exclusivity isn't total, as the new links from "other" providers show.
Google continues to play a major role at Yahoo, powering both the image and web search functions. A notable addition to web search results are links to Google's cached copies of documents, which were not previously available via Yahoo.
Although Yahoo completed its acquisition of Inktomi on March 19, the company won't say when or how it plans to integrate Inktomi into the Yahoo network, though it likely will happen soon. A Yahoo spokesperson said "you will see comprehensiveness continue to improve" with the integration of Inktomi, not only in search results, but in product search, news, travel, yellow pages, personals, and Hotjobs.
Other new features include what Yahoo calls "shortcuts" for accessing certain types of content, including yellow pages, weather, maps and news. For example, typing a company name and city in the search box returns three yellow pages listings at the top of results.
Entering a street address will return a map, and using the keywords "news" or "weather" in your search terms with return relevant news or weather information, respectively.
Yahoo plans to launch a new ad campaign to promote its revitalized search capabilities. "This is the first part of an evolution where we are making search results faster, easier and smarter for consumers to find what they are looking for," said Jeff Weiner, Yahoo's Senior Vice President, Search and Marketplace.
Danny Sullivan will be taking a more in-depth look at the new Yahoo Search in the Search Engine Report, which will be published at the end of this month.
Yahoo Search Start Page
Yahoo Renews With Google, Changes Results
The Search Engine Report, Oct. 9, 2002
After months of speculation, Yahoo announced today that it has renewed its relationship to use Google's results as part of its search listings. In addition, Yahoo made a substantial change to end its historic barrier between human-powered and crawler-based search results.
Yahoo To Buy Inktomi
The Search Engine Report, Jan. 7, 2003
If all goes as planned, Yahoo will become the proud owner of Inktomi by the end of March or earlier. The company announced its intention to buy Inktomi for $235 million on December 23.
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