By Jacqui Cheng | Published: October 02, 2007 – 11:40AM CT
Yahoo appears to be doing something right, which is good news for a company that many believe is destined to always play second fiddle to Google. Web analysis firm Compete recently published data on search queries between several of the top search engines and found that although Google still retains a substantial market share lead over the competition, Yahoo appears to trounce Google when it comes to search fulfillment. That is, more Yahoo queries result in a successful clickthrough to one of the results—75 percent of searches, in the month of August, compared to Google’s 65 percent and Live Search’s 59 percent. This data seems to indicate that Yahoo’s results do a better job at presenting information that is useful to the user. Building on this success, Yahoo’s new search enhancements look to improve further on the core search experience.
The most significant change, Search Assist, tries to help predict what the user is looking for and offers up variations or alternatives. It has been added as an AJAX layer on top of the page that pops up when it senses that the user is hesitating on a search query. Looking for something that starts with “ars?” Maybe you’re looking for Ars Technica, ares, ars national, or ars poetica.
The tool can also offer up related concepts—Yahoo! Search VP Vish Makhijani offers up a query for “energy savings” as an example, which causes Search Assist to present a plethora of search options and alternatives that don’t necessarily contain the term “energy,” but could be related. “In testing Search Assist, we found that users were 61% more successful in completing their task with this new search feature at their disposal,” Makhijani writes. For those who are simply slow or hesitant typists, Yahoo (thankfully) does offer an option to turn off Search Assist if you should so choose.