Yahoo Releases Major Changes To Search Interface

Yahoo Releases Major Changes To Search Interface

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Not to be outdone by all the new things Google has been doing with their search interface this year, Yahoo has just released a pretty major update to their own search engine.  And since we’re all about getting your videos found on search engines here, I figure we’d better take a look and see what’s new. 

Yahoo has about 17% of the search engine market share.  And while many in our industry find it easy and fun to use that statistic to suggest that Yahoo Search doesn’t matter, the fact is that Yahoo Search definitely matters.  If 17% sounds like a small portion of the customer base, try and remember that it works out to over 2.5 Billion searches per month.  I, for one, don’t want to miss out on those potential customers, so I try to keep Yahoo Search in mind instead of just putting on the Google blinders.

Big Change With Yahoo Search UI

So what are these changes?  We’ll the main one is some kind of results box that contains vertical tabs.  These tabs are pretty much the same things as Google’s left-sidebar “verticals,” acting as filters you can use to further specify the kinds of content you’re looking for.  And it looks like this:

(My coworker is listening to the White Stripes as I write this, so I decided to search for “Jack White”.)  The “Overview” box itself has a single news story (I’m guessing it’s the most recent or most popular about Jack White) and then a selection of photos below that.  And at the top, there’s a horizontal list of suggested “similar” searches–for this sample search, that list contains the names of other musical artists.  And on the far left sidebar, you have a list of “related” people you can search for by clicking.

Notice also the vertical tabs on the right, allowing you to narrow your search by “Videos,” “Albums,” or “Twitter.”  That’s the big new “wow” factor, and it’s actually pretty slick.  Click on any vertical tab, and it slides out over the Overview, with the quick-options in the box changing to match the newly-focused search.

Here’s something kind of neat–if you click the Twitter tab–you have two options for viewing Tweets about Jack White, “Everyone” and “Hollywood Insiders.”  So you can see what famous people are saying about him, or focus on the thoughts of the general public.

The vertical tabs can vary, both in number and in actual topic, depending on your search.  A search for “Obama” returns only three tabs:  Stories, Images, & Twitter.  “Brad Pitt” brings you Stories, Videos, & Twitter.  I’m not sure how many different filter options we’ll see for the vertical tabs, and it might take some trial and error to discover them all.

Other New Features With Yahoo Search

Mobile search got an overhaul of the HTML5 variety.  I actually sometimes use Yahoo mobile search–despite my Android phone’s allegiance to Google–and I have to say, the update is a vast improvement.  Vast.  I have pretty vivid memories from just a year ago of Yahoo’s mobile search experience making me want to stab myself in the eyes.  Now… it’s more intuitive, prettier, and much more useful.

They’re going to be releasing something called Quick Apps that will integrate with the Yahoo experience.  For example, Netflix users will be able to single click within search results to add a particular movie to their Netflix queue.  Sweet!

They’re going to be doing a lot with photo slideshows in the search results–culling photos from a multitude of sources, including Flickr.

If you connect your Facebook and Yahoo accounts, you can see your friends’ Facebook photos and albums in the search results. Which is… cool… I guess?

Impact Of Changes to Yahoo Search UI

This could impact video marketers in a big way, since search users are now going to be encouraged to discover videos through the new vertical filter tab instead of just inside the results or by clicking to go to a video-only search.  So the question immediately becomes… how do I get my videos included in that box?  Are they going by how current the video is?  How many views it has?  Standard SEO factors of relevance to the query?  These are the questions most of us will be asking over the next few weeks as we test the new Yahoo.

And there are only four videos on that tab when it slides out, so it’s going to be very competitive indeed.  (I also find it funny that for most of the searches I’m trying this morning, there is a conspicuously low amount of YouTube clips in the results–not representative at all of their dominance in online video.  Not that I can fault Yahoo for giving preference to some video sites that aren’t owned by their biggest competitor). Here’s a screenshot of that video tab:

As for general SEO concerns:  pay attention to what this new vertical-tabs box does to the top organic and sponsored listings–they’re pushed down considerably.  Which should make some advertisers and SEO professionals nervous.

As with Google Instant, this is going to change the way Yahoo Search users search.  I think.  I guess it’s possible that it will bomb and disappear within a few weeks.  But I doubt it.  Yahoo’s Shashi Seth–the VP of Search and Marketplaces–said this about the new interface:

“Our goal is to understand what people care about and to make it fun for them to explore the most personally relevant, interesting, and informative content so that they can get things done faster and stay in the know. Yahoo’s new immersive Search is a cornerstone of the overall Yahoo experience, creating more ways to connect people with whatever and whoever interests them.”

It sounds like it’s here to stay.  Which is fine by me because, at first glance, it looks like an improvement.  And heck, any major change like this at Yahoo is a sign of life, which itself is a good omen for those of us that value competition in the search engine industry.

Have you played around with the new Yahoo Search yet?   If so, what do you think?  Better?  Worse?  More of the same?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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