You may soon begin to notice Yahoo!’s latest update, Yahoo! Search Direct, which, as of today, is still in beta. This new feature is very similar to Google Instant, with a few significant differences. The first thing to keep in mind is Yahoo! Search Direct is most functional for navigational searches (getting you toward the right information), or for answers on simple search queries (ie: “weather in San Francisco”). Upfront note: this feature is not on par with Google Instant’s ability to provide you with a full page of search results based on your initial query’s letters.
The first and most interesting and/or annoying change you’ll notice, depending on your point of view, happens before you type anything into the search bar. If you simply click on the search bar, Yahoo! will show you a list of the Top 10 hottest search trends. Some may find this distracting; Yahoo! is hoping searchers will find it addicting and come back for more.
Another interesting feature occurs when you type in just one letter. In the majority of cases, you will be shown a list of Yahoo!-specific sites on the lower left and corresponding links to the highlighted site on the right-hand side. For example, type the letter “K”, and you’ll be shown “Yahoo! Kids”. Type in the letter “R” and you’ll be shown “Yahoo! Real Estate”. You get the idea. This feature can be very helpful in getting you to a known website if you forgot the entire title. However, for most critics, this is simple self-promotion on Yahoo!’s part.
What happens when you type in a full keyword? When I typed the word “roses”, Yahoo! showed me the top 10 full query strings related to roses on the lower left (the list ranged from “Guns N Roses” to “Roses Bloom Twice”), and the top 3 ranked listings pertaining to the highlighted term on the right-hand side. This is very similar to Google Instant, albeit with a much smaller list of ranked websites. The downside happens when you type in a long-tail search term, such as “roses for spring”. In this case, you will still see the top 10 list of most frequent related queries on the lower left, but on the right side, Yahoo! has no suggested sites.
So again, if you want a simple navigational search, Yahoo! Search Direct lives up to its name. However, for a better built-out search experience, stick to Yahoo.com or your search engine of choice. We expect to see some changes forthcoming for Yahoo! Search Direct after initial beta tests are complete, but for ongoing information about how the Search Direct might impact your Yahoo! rankings, talk to your SEO agent today.
Contributed by Amanda Finch, VP Operations