Yesterday, Yahoo launched a new product called Search Direct – their answer to Google’s Instant Search. Start typing at search.yahoo.com and a small widget-like box slides down, providing you with “search results as fast as a person types, character by character, and presents those results dynamically, generating a fast, simple search experience that goes beyond a list of blue links.” And that’s the distinction Yahoo is trying to make with Search Direct, that they can provide “answers” and not an overwhelming blue links.
Just for the sake of argument, I tested Search Direct versus Google Instant Search. Not surprising, Google came out ahead. Using the same browser and not logged in to any accounts, it took me the full search for “weather 97212” to pull up today’s weather near our office here in Portland, Oregon. Over at Google, all it took was a simple “w”. Yahoo may try to spin it as a confusing mess of blue links, but Google has continually evolved rich results to include weather, local sports scores, and more.
Now that’s not to say Yahoo Search Direct won’t be a useful product. First, the Search Direct box is the only thing that updates versus an entire page on Google. So in theory results can be shown faster. And currently, Yahoo is displaying results for about 15 different categories including sports, music, celebrities, shopping and local. Yahoo also revealed that they are considering monetizing the Search Direct box by allowing advertisers to display images or videos on the right-hand side of the search box.
If you are a small business owner that falls within one of those categories (the Local category would be an obvious choice!), it’s another reason to make sure your site is optimized and even enhanced for elements like Rich Snippets. One example would be to format your brick-and-motor’s address in hCard so search engines can easily find your location. Yahoo Search Direct also gives you another tool for keyword research. You’ll be able to see some of the most popular results and identify new keywords to target in SEO or PPC.
How do you think Yahoo Search Direct will stack up against Google Instant Search? Has your site appeared in the results? Drop a comment and let us know!