I’ve written about how hard it is for people to break the Google Habit (and see here) and consider other search engines. But breaking the habit can be done, and Microsoft’s Live Search shows an easy win for this type of thing in response to a search for oscar winners. Check it out — the actual winners are shown right at the top of the page:
Microsoft talks more about this special feature in a blog post from Friday. And similar to Microsoft, Ask.com also provides direct answers:
Now compare those to what you get on the same search over at Google:
No actual answers, nor is the first site the official Oscars web site, as you’d think would be most relevant (Microsoft and Ask both puts the official site tops, Microsoft right after the actual winners, Ask in between the winners and a lot of ads). At Yahoo, there are no direct answers.
Providing instant answers like this isn’t something new for search engines. They’ve long been offered. They’ve had different names at different search engines, but the concept has been out there for years.
But old tricks can still be good ones. For me, these type of specific answer searches can be a habit breaker when you know to expect them consistently. If there’s an earthquake, Ask.com has a long-standing feature that gives you a list of the latest quakes at the top of the page (try it yourself for earthquakes). I always check it for quake news. I absolutely love Microsoft’s snow report feature and go straight to Microsoft if I need to check on a resort (try it for Brighton, Utah).
Of course, Google has a long list of direct answers it provides, from weather to the current time. It’s no slouch here. But there’s still plenty of opportunity for competitors to stake out territory for certain types of searches.