Back to the Future: Innovation is Alive in Search

  • Posted September 10th, 2010 at 1:10 pm by Yahoo! Search
  • Categories: Search

While many have suggested that innovation in the search experience is waning, we celebrate industry enhancements that build upon past innovation.

As reminded by Search Engine Land, the notion of predicting a given user’s intended search was first introduced by Yahoo!’s “Instant Search” feature in 2005. We (and Instant Search) were ahead of the curve, and users let us know it. At that time, even search engine guru Danny Sullivan referred to the feature as a “weird one.” Though the advancement came too early for some, and the results were too overwhelming for others, Yahoo! filed patent applications on the feature and continued to build upon and innovate in the search experience.

In 2007 we expanded on the “Instant Search” function with a new tool on the Yahoo! homepage designed to anticipate a user’s intended search and to offer suggestions. That technology – some call it “Search Suggestions on steroids” – rapidly evolved into “Yahoo! Search Assist” across our primary Search experiences. The intuitiveness of Yahoo! Search Assist technology has been a hit and today, 40% of searches on Yahoo! have taken advantage of the feature.

Since we first developed this intellectual property in 2005, the average person’s appetite for information and content from the web has grown.  People now access the web and Yahoo! Search in numerous ways, from any number of devices, all day long.

Today we are used to consuming more information in real time, and we welcome tools that help make life online more efficient and personally relevant. Providing those technologies and tools was our goal in 2005. It remains our goal today.

Reflective of the publicity associated with the “Google Instant” announcement this week, the door remains wide open for continued innovation in the search experience. We believe that we are still at the beginning of not only how, but how quickly, search results will be presented.

Watch this space. There’s a lot more to come.

Shashi Seth
Senior Vice President, Yahoo! Search Products

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