The latest buzz in the search world is that Yahoo! has unveiled their new Search Assist functionality which is probably an attempt to reclaim the search crown that Google forcefully took many years ago.
“That sums up Yahoo! Search in a nutshell; the whole point is we want to get you from “to do” to “done.” Whatever it is you want to do: research a topic, find a website, plan a vacation, research a medical condition, view a funny video, or any of the other billions of queries we get from users — their intents expressed via a few keywords in a search box.”
Yahoo!’s new Search Assist feature is essentially a metadata browser that pulls up related phrases and information that may be useful to someone who has just entered a query. They show how it automatically drops in live Yahoo! Videos, Flickr images, and more right into your search results list, but how does this actually help them take down Google? Google is a verb, their search algorithm and datastore are far superior to Yahoo!’s, and to prove it it was only back in 2004 that Yahoo! decided not to use Google anymore for their own search results, because prior to then for a few years, they used Google. Yahoo! has been paying the price of their initial folly for awhile now (the folly being that “search” is not just another feature tacked onto their portal like “stocks” and “horoscopes” and is a utility in its own right) and this is their attempt to pull some users away from Google’s grasp.
The problem is that this doesn’t solve The Problem and that would be answering people’s questions in a real life scenario — who cares about videos and images when I just want an answer? To show an example, a commenter brought up this comparison:
See the difference? Google identifies what I’m trying to find and helps me solve the problem complete with a map. Yahoo! doesn’t help me find anything. Screw the Search Assist and the videos and the images, just solve my problem. And Google does that just fine.