How Yahoo! Search uses mobile to deliver “Answers, Not Links”

To say that mobile is the direction users are going in is an understatement. According to Bernstein Research, mobile queries will eclipse PC query volume in 2015. Earlier this week at SMX West, I presented how Yahoo! Search is using mobile landing pages to deliver on its vision of “Answers, Not Links” and provide a compelling experience on mobile. Here are some key points from my presentation during the panel, “Creating Conversation Friendly Mobile Landing Pages”:

  • Given that Yahoo! operates #1-#3 properties in 20+ segments, we want to bubble up and re-circulate premium content in response to search queries.
  • We also believe at Y! Search that 50% of search queries have an “answer” and the other half are tail queries with blue links in responses.
  • We know the most likely intent of the user. We also have search history as context, and on mobile additional elements like location, form factor and device browser, so we can customize the experience for the user.

Based on these fundamental design principles and constraints/guidelines, mobile web experiences that we have built for Yahoo! Search, do the following:

  • Provide a great “answer” for top intents, such as entertainment and sports
  • Take into account explicit or implicit local intent, which is the case for over 50% of mobile queries


For example, if you searched for the Academy Awards before the winners were announced, the top search result was a list of the nominees. Then, as the awards were being announced, the mobile page was updated in real time to see the winners.  We know that most likely, this is the information people are looking for.

For the sports fan, if you’re searching for a team, you’re most likely looking for the previous game score, the next game date/time, or the overall status of the team. Understanding the content for that query helps deliver the right thing in one screen, which is key for mobile.  For every additional click you ask someone to make, 50 percent of users don’t click — they just leave.  So the less you ask them to do, the better.

On the Yahoo! Search app canvas, we can also get location per session and deliver “NearMe Now” buttons which provide one-touch local destinations such as coffee shops, restaurants, movies and ATMs. Similarly we have the ability to input the query through a voice interface, and we receive the keywords through a speech to text conversion engine we work with on the back end.

To summarize, here are some considerations for “Web vs App” canvas:

▪   Video/Audio manipulation

▪   Offline storage and delivery

▪   Partner support for your landing page

▪   Notifications and push

▪   Location

▪   Voice/Maps based engagement

▪   Leverage device features (E.g camera, accelerometer)


– Anand Chandrasekaran, Yahoo!Mobile Search product team


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