dcsimg
RealTime IT News

Yahoo Tool Aims to Smarten Searches

Yahoo is testing technology to let users hone organic search results.

Y!Q went live on next.yahoo.com, the area featuring beta functions, on Thursday. The technology analyzes the contents of the page being viewed and offers, via a "search related info" link, the opportunity to see related content.

In other words, Y!Q provides the ability to quickly search on the topic at hand without having to open a search page or figure out what to type for a query.

Related info results appear in a small box that floats on the main Web page. Although it looks like a popup, the pop-up blockers integrated into browsers such as IE or Firefox don't inhibit it. Also within that box is a space to type in a query and search either the related info results alone or the entire Web index.

"Ordinarily, in the environment in which most people would conduct a search, such as shopping or reading an article, you might realize you need to know a whole lot more," said Yahoo spokeswoman Tara Kirchner. Without Y!Q, that might necessitate starting a new Firefox browser tab or opening a new Internet Explorer window. "Y!Q is meant to be used inline with what the user already is doing," she said.

Yahoo is testing two other implementations of Y!Q: It's available for download as a toolbar that's separate from the existing Yahoo toolbar; and Web masters can insert code on their pages that adds the "search related info" link to the pages they serve.

The idea of I!Q is to provide more relevant answers to search queries by applying contextual analysis to the current page. For example, in the limited demo provided by Yahoo in advance of the launch, related info for a page on the baseball team Baltimore Orioles would include baseball information and not ornithology.

Kirchner said Yahoo had no revenue model for the feature, and she admitted that in the current implementation Y!Q could reduce the number of ad impressions by not requiring users to open a new search page when they want more information. She said there will be no paid placements within the related info results, but those results will include content from throughout the Yahoo network. For example, in the Baltimore Orioles example, results from Yahoo's Sports Shortcut include links for buying tickets and team gear.

"You could imagine," she said, "that in the final rollout, they'll factor in both user experience and the revenue model."