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Yahoo! has made a number of changes to its search engine, adding a search assist feature, as well as beginning to display videos, photos and other media in search results.

The 'search assist' feature is a handy addition to the search engine, giving relevant vertical search results to certain queries.

In Yahoo's example, a search for 'united nations' will bring up a list of suggestions that Yahoo! knows are related to the query.

This includes 'league of nations', the UN's predecessor, 'general assembly', and other related searches. Search assist can be opened or closed via a drop down box.

Yahoo! claims that the new feature has improved user satisfaction - the company found that task completion (users clicking on a search result)  improved by 61% with the help of search assist.

In a recent blog post, Compete's Jeremy Crane found that Yahoo! was better at search fulfilment - i.e. more search queries on the site end in users clicking on a result.

As well as adding a new header and footer to the search page, Yahoo! has also begun to integrate results from a range of media into its search results. When searches turn up results from YouTube or other video sites, videos are now embedded into the results page:

Yahoo is also displaying images from Flickr on the search results page, and searchers can see previews of images before clicking through to the site:

Search marketers may be concerned that this trend towards 'universal search' will make it harder to get visibility on the first page of search engines, as Google, Ask.com, and Microsoft have all begun to include video, news and images in their search results pages.

At any rate. the changes are a big improvement on Yahoo!'s previous search engine, though whether it will enable the company to claw back some search market share from Google remains to be seen.

Related stories:
Ask revamps its search engine
Microsoft reveals Live Search updates

Related research:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Best Practice Guide 

Graham Charlton

Published 3 October, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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