Search Detours: Beyond the Top 10

Aug 2, 2004 - 7:47 pm 0 by

Ken Norton from Yahoo was up first and said he did not like the name of this session and rather call it "Shortcuts." The goals of search integration are; to get the user to the answer faster without distracting from the Web search, provide something more useful than the web results themselves and leverage the features and functionality of the Yahoo! network. Shortcut examples by Yahoo!: search on "united airlines 63", "jfk airport" will bring up a map, weather, flight info and more. "red sox scores" is an other example of "shortcuts" and these results are complimentary to the Web results. Category integration examples include "democratic national convention" will bring up news, "Starbucks san jose" will bring up yellow pages, "150 w san carlos st, san jose, ca" will bring up a map, "yhoo" will bring up a stock quote, and "boston weather" will bring up weather. Active refinement integration examples include the tabs at the top of the engines, "also try" (related searches) which help refine your search and Yahoo! shopping's narrow down by price or by categories, brand or attributes. Future objectives for Yahoo! is to understand how context and personalization improve the experience.

Daniel Read from Ask Jeeves was next up. What do users want from search engines? They want you or expect you to read their mind. He said "10 blue links is a limited paradigm." Ask Jeeves created "Smart Search" which was created in April 2003 and goes beyond the traditional search experience. 1st Smart Search was on picture search and combines structured and unstructured data. There are over 150 smart search features now live on He then shows examples of what ask users see. They recently allowed you to search on "map of san jose" and it will bring up a map, he mentioned that only Gary Price picked this up in the industry. They added a viral marketing component where they can email results to a friend. Future developments include a better prediction of user intent, better structured data (maps), better integration with web results, personalization, and users learn the value of structured search data.

Next up is Andrew Cohen from AOL Search. He starts off with something he calls "programmed searches" and says its like Danny's "invisible tabs" concept. By bringing the searcher into a more specialized database (structured data in Ask's mind), they can provide a "shortcut" for the user. AOL is looking to provide an immediate answer to a question they have, as opposed to a detour or shortcut. With Time Warner they are able to provide these specialized databases with greater and better content.

Marissa Mayer from Google is now up. She puts up a maze and shows Yahoo and MSN going through a maze, whereas Google jumps over the maze, right to the destination. She also talks about naming it shortcuts over detours (thats what she was told from the PR department). Google's most popular shortcut is Google Images and has over 800 millions images in the database. She explains how you can answer questions with Image search, what color is turquoise, what does poison ivy look like. Google News is an other shortcut, which continuously updates, from over 10,000 sources in a clustered environment. Google Groups 2 is a system for groups and communities to discuss. But this really means that there is a real dialog with real people. Technical questions are answered in detail in groups, so are reviews and historical information. Froogle is the newest tab, its where people go when they are ready to buy. They pride themselves as being the most comprehensive. You can sort in a number of ways. Google local is an other shortcut and is the newest property. It allows you to search for services in your neighborhood and it is more comprehensive then yellow pages. It puts related pages next to your results (does it put competitors?).

Q & A:

Our very own moderator, Nacho, asks if they are implementing this internationality? Most the answers were yes we do provide these "shortcuts" if you search outside of the US. But I think Nacho's question was can I search in the US in a Spanish language, will the results come up with the shortcuts? I am sitting right next to Nacho and he will follow up with greater detail on how "shortcuts" are and are not implemented with these search properties.

I left mid way in the Q & A session in order to make sure I can post this and catch SEMPO's meeting that follows.

Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums.


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