Yahoo has now gone live with its new search format. There’s nothing radical or “game changing.” However, there are some nice upgrades and improvements. Most prominently, it features a new left column that allows users to filter results by Search Monkey content providers or refine by related concepts. It also features more prominent placement for Search Pad and an expansion of Search Assist. Yahoo says it has also improved image and video search and says speed and performance are better across the board.
Yahoo previewed these new features previously and Danny discussed them at some length in an earlier post. These changes are now in effect in the US, UK, France, Spain, Mexico, and India and will roll out more broadly to other markets in the near future. Overall there’s more visual appeal to the new format and the Search Monkey refinements are useful in most cases.
Below is an example search for London. Shortcuts remain at the top of results, now the center column:
If we click the “Yahoo Travel” filter in the left column, we get the following results without entering a new query:
Further down in the left column you can also refine by “weather” (not a Search Monkey filter, but a related “Search Assist” concept):
Search Assist continues to be a prominent feature of the overall search experience. And Search Pad gets more visibility:
The newly launched search format generally mirrors the new Yahoo homepage with its brand-centric left column:
With this new look and feel Yahoo Search moves somewhat closer to Bing, ironically. Bing has seen its market share slowly creep up and is probably a greater threat to its partner Yahoo than it is to Google.
In the relatively near future the actual results on Bing and Yahoo will be the same (assuming regulatory approval of the deal). Thus Yahoo will continue to need to make changes and upgrades to the interface and overall user experience to prevent a loss of usage and market share.
I haven’t systematically tested Yahoo’s new search against Google and Bing. However I generally like the new appearance as well as the Search Monkey features.
One thing that Yahoo should consider is a personalized left nav/column (a la the new home page) where users can select favorite Search Monkey filters (e.g., Yelp for local, Kayak for travel). Indeed, the more prominent appearance of Search Monkey in the new Yahoo Search may encourage more sites and publishers to participate in the program.
We hope that these changes are part of an ongoing series of upgrades to Yahoo Search, although many continue to believe that with the outsourcing of its back end and index to Microsoft, and exodus of key search engineers, that Yahoo has effectively given up on search. New Yahoo CMO Elisa Steele tried briefly to rebut that idea in her IAB MIXX keynote speech announcing the new Yahoo branding campaign.
Here’s more on the new search changes from the Yahoo Search Blog.