Is it Holiday Greed or a User Interface Improvement? Yahoo's November 24th update to their Search Assist drop down features new smart search links that signal an even greater push to drive traffic to their own properties than before. With this new change, when you type in a keyword like mail, Yahoo takes the opportunity to intercept the traffic and drive it to one of their pages as shown in the example below.
For queries like NASDAQ stock symbols, the drop down even displays current stock prices right in the drop down. So far this feature is not in use on the Yahoo.com home page, but it is showing up at other subsections of their portal such as Yahoo News and Weather. While it might be a nice traffic builder for Yahoo Properties, it certainly is a heavily biased feature that interrupts search before the user even gets to the search engine.
Can you imagine the impact something like this would have if every time you went to the Google home page and started to type in a query, a drop down tries to lead you to a Google Property like Google Product Search? Wait – they have already started doing that with YouTube Video, Google News, Google Local, etc. you might say, but there is a key difference with this concept – fewer choices. Yahoo is interrupting the traffic stream before a search even occurs vs Google integrating theirs into the results post search. Perhaps we should call this "Pre-Search" results?
The engines are getting bolder and bolder in their desires to keep more and more traffic (and money) to themselves, and pass along an ever decreasing percentage to the rest of the Internet. While for a short term benefit, it will work in their favor, in the long run a new up and coming search engine will remember what worked for Google, Infoseek and others before and offer clear unbiased search results to their users and gain the public's favor.
For more information on Google updates, please see our friends at SearchEngineNews.com.