Archive for the ‘Google Instant’ Category

Yahoo Search Direct competes with Google Instant

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Yahoo search direct.

A few days ago at a press event in San Francisco, Yahoo announced the launch of a new product called ‘Search Direct’. It looks a lot like Google Instant: as you start typing a query into Yahoo Search, the site will begin populating results with each new character entered (in other words, you don’t have to hit the ‘return’ key). The feature is now live at and of interest to SEO and local SEO pro experts.

Google Instant, of course, has done something very similar since September. But Yahoo says that Search Direct is looking to help match users with “answers, not links”. As you start typing, a small rectangular widget will slide down from the search bar and show rich results whenever available — do a query for “Derrick”, and you’ll see quick breakdown of basketball player Derrick Rose’s stats. Search for a city and you’ll see weather widgets and nearby sports team schedules — you can jump between these rich results using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Google Instant also shows rich results when possible, but Yahoo Search Direct does seem faster, in part because it isn’t refreshing the whole page.

Asked about how this compares to Google Instant, Yahoo SVP of Search Products Shashi Seth says “They’re very different products. We’re focused on providing answers, not links. Google Instant is focused on providing more links, faster. Not answers. We believe the next generation of search regardless of whether it’s on the web or mobile, they’re looking for answers, not links.” I suspect Google would strongly disagree with this assertion, as the search giant has long been increasing the number of rich results it displays in addition to the ten blue links.

Yahoo search direct tool.

Asked about how Yahoo provides its results so quickly, Shashi says that they are generated by a completely different infrastructure from its normal search servers. The infrastructure is “significantly smaller” — Yahoo is using around 15 categories of data, but says it could eventually expand to include “hundreds of categories”. Some of the categories at this point: sports, music, celebrities, weather, news, shopping, local.

Yahoo will be monetizing the new features by allowing advertisers to embed images or videos in the right-pane (run a query for Gap, and you might see a YouTube ad for the Gap in this rich content area). Which seems to defeat the purpose (if I’m expecting rich, contextual results, I don’t want them to be completely replaced by an ad), but it sounds like Yahoo is still experimenting with these.

Shashi says that this will be eventually be available on the iPad, where they say it will be especially useful. This isn’t available yet and will look different when it does launch.

Yahoo EVP, Chief Product Officer Blake Irving says that while Yahoo has outsourced part of its search efforts, it still knows that “search matters. It matters to customers, and it matters to us. Microsoft is doing our paid search and algorithmic backend.” But he says that frees Yahoo’s engineers up to work on other improvements. He also mentioned that you might see this appearing on websites outside of

Google Instant Preview adds visuals to SEO

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Earlier this month, Google added a new feature to their Search experience: Google Instant Preview. The feature, explained in detail on the official Google Blog, accelerates the search process and adds a visual aspect to the SEO job description. In order to activate Instant Preview, users must click on the magnifying glass nestled within each search result. Once activated, a graphical preview flips up when the cursor hovers over any part of a search result.

Like many of Google’s enhancements to the Search process, the arrival of Instant Preview affects the SEO industry. Many web marketers were tempted to dismiss Instant Preview’s SEO influences after reading that the change would not influence algorithmic SERPs. Sure, the rankings of your client won’t change, but what if your #1 ranking doesn’t appeal to users visually? Instant Preview encourages conversations and integration between SEO and Web Designers for maximum return on search engine marketing efforts.

SEO without an Algorithm

An important element to each preview returned is the text highlighted, emboldening the keywords from the search query; a golden opportunity to impress searchers and ensure a click-through. This concept is similar to well-crafted meta-descriptions: Optimized copy won’t influence the algorithmic results directly, but the right keyword usage can lead to increased traffic and visitors.

As mentioned earlier, Instant Preview adds a visual dynamic to the SEO process. How do your landing pages appear in Google’s preview? It’s important to note that Previews do not include Flash graphics. As you can see in the example with a search for “YouTube”, pages loaded with Flash are unappealing and may cost you visitors.

The wall between the Search Optimization Department and Web Designers is slowly crumbling due to changes like Instant Preview. With so much of search decision-making fueled by the look and feel of a site, SEO has a voice in webpage design, at least when forming landing pages.

Changes in Web Marketing

The introduction of Instant Preview is the latest in a long line of Google efforts to organize the way the internet works. If you want traffic, you have to play their game. Instant Preview brings sweeping changes to those sites hoping to profit off pop-ups or windowless Flash Ads. The Google Webmaster Blog explains:

Try to avoid interstitial pages, ad pop-ups, or other elements that interfere with your content. In some cases, these distracting elements may be picked up in the preview of your page, making the screenshots less attractive.

Additionally, Google is picking up valuable seconds in terms of Average Time on Site, and in the process, building trust in the Google search process. Instant Preview affords users the ability to quickly interact with a page and determine its usefulness while never leaving the safe haven of Google’s search results; a notion that contributes to overall brand loyalty to the search giant. Tricky? Maybe. Smart? Absolutely.

Game Changer?

The arrival of Instant Preview is merely another example of the constant evolution that is SEO. Interpreting Google’s signals and actions is an exciting aspect of SEO that will never end.