here's a twist
to the search engine wars: the latest attempt to unseat Google
as the current champion is by the original search engine,
Yahoo. This week it unveiled a new search interface and a
bold new way to search. So should you switch?
some background. As you know, Yahoo ruled the roost for years
until Google became the most popular search engine company.
While Yahoo became an ever-larger portal - offering everything
from shopping to Web hosting to maps to e-mail services, Google
kept it simple: nothing but search. "Stickiness"
- the amount of time a user stayed on your site - had been
the most important measure until Google came along. So instead
of forcing (some would say fooling) users into sticking around
trying different services, Google tried another tack. Give
people what they are looking for, send them away and then
will come back because they know you are the best. This formula
was so successful that Yahoo eventually signed a deal with
the upstart, using Google results in its backend operations.
written off Yahoo's search engine- I hadn't done a Yahoo search
in at least two years - I was pleasantly surprised to learn
about the new revamped effort.
still evolving, but I can definitely see some strong benefits
to the new Yahoo. The very features that caused it to downplay
its search business - maps, yellow pages, shopping - are now
being used in interesting new ways and have the made searches
you visit search.yahoo.com,
it's a delightfully uncluttered interface. Type in your query
and you get results that, for now, are similar to Google's
(in many cases ARE Google's). But what's different is the
way it uses maps and yellow pages to help you find information
faster and better than before. For example, if I typed in
"10023 Starbucks" for the zipcode of the WABC studio,
I first get a set of yellow pages listings of the nearest
Starbucks, with maps. That's pretty useful. However, if I
just type in "Starbucks," a bunch of sponsor listings
push down Starbucks.com a full scroll, which is unfortunate.
the couple of days I have used it, the Yahoo search does better
with commerce-oriented searches than with general interest
has always been known for using human editors to work on the
listings, which means that its results are often better edited
and more understandable than other search engines that use
only automated systems. This continues to be the case.
also a new product search that competes with Google's excellent
Froogle service - you
can try it out at products.yahoo.com.
am not a fan yet of the news search function (not as broad
as Google News).
are several other features that are going to be rolled out
in the weeks and months ahead. We will keep a close eye on
bottom line: I will continue to use Google as my default search
engine for now, but suddenly, it's a two-horse race.
and let me know your thoughts.