So what’s the difference between this and Google Instant?, you may ask. Yahoo claims that Search Direct aims to provide users with answers, as apposed to links.
When asked, Shashi Seth, Yahoo SVP of Search Products said, “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.”
We suspect Goggle would disagree with this statement.
To test Yahoo’s answers vs. links argument, Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land put the two head to head in a ‘search off’.
Sullivan conducted a series of searches on each platform, to see which returned the most ‘answer rich’ results.
Search 1 – Charlie Sheen
Searching for ‘charlie’ on Yahoo Direct returned Charlie Sheen’s Wikipedia page, his Twitter page and a YouTube video. Those are all links, not answers.
The same search on Google also returned links, but within those links were news items, deemed to be more ‘answer’ focused than Yahoo’s results.
Search 2 – movies playing near me
This time the search was “mov…” and both provided results before the word ‘movie’ was even finished.
Yahoo provided three links, Yahoo Movies, Movies.com and Fandango.
Google, as well as providing links, also guessed the location and provided local screening information.
Search 2, by ZIP code
Yahoo suggests that better results may be obtained if a ZIP code is included in the search, so this was put to the test in a search for “movies 92661”.
Yahoo served up some nice results that listed movies and times in local theatres. However, it missed out two theatres that are actually closer to the 92661 ZIP code than the results shown.
Google’s results were the same as before and required an extra click to obtain further information. However, that extra click did provide results for the two theatres that Yahoo missed.
Test 3 – weather
Sullivan explains, “In Yahoo’s demo, they seemed to totally trump Google in how typing only “wea…” would present the local weather”.
In reality, it didn’t. Not even close.
Google on the other hand provided weather information for the local area, just by typing the letters “wea”.
Based on these tests alone, it’s unfair to say that Google is better than Yahoo, Google Instant is after all more established than Yahoo Direct. Also, these tests only explored a handful of search terms, further testing of different terms may have revealed different results.
What the tests do show is that Yahoo’s claims of Google just providing links is misguided, because Google is also providing answers, and good ones.
You can read Danny Sullivan’s post in full here.