Yahoo just launched some interesting updates to its search product. Even though Yahoo’s search backend is now powered by Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo remains in charge of how it presents this data. The new Yahoo “Search Direct” features somewhat resembles Google Instant, but is actually, in some way, a cleverer solution that brings together some of the best aspects of Bing’s “Bing boxes” and Google Instant. According to Yahoo, the company is using its own index (though based on Bing’s data) and search algorithms to power this feature.
The trend in search has long gone towards giving users answers to their questions instead of long lists of links (though, admittedly, this is a very slow movement given the technical difficulties involved). On Yahoo Search, a box now pops up when you start searching, giving you search suggestions on the left and the top sites related to this topic on the right as you type.
Coverage for this new feature currently includes “trending searches, movies, TV, sports teams and players, weather, local, travel, stocks, and shopping categories.”
You can still get to the regular list of blue links by selecting any of the search suggestions, but chances are the answer you are looking for is already available without the need to go to the traditional search results page.
All the major search providers currently offer similar features and it’s hard to imagine that many users will switch to Yahoo just because of this. That said, though, it’s nice to see that there is still some search innovation left in Yahoo.
To try this feature, just head over to search.yahoo.com and start searching.