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Google Releases Google Instant – Yahoo Responds with Yahoo Rich Search Assistant


Let’s play the search engine guessing game. Use the following three hints to determine the search engine and the specific feature associated with it. Hints:

  1. I’m a one of the top 3 search sites in the U.S.,
  2. I provide faster searches and smarter predictions,
  3. I preview results as you type.

Who am I?

So you’ve got your answer and you’re feeling pretty confident about it. The search engine must be Google and the feature in question has got to be Google Instant, right? Wrong. Turns out it’s Yahoo and Yahoo Rich Search Assist – Yahoo’s response to Google’s September search engine update and  Google Instant’s bizarro twin brother.

Ok, so maybe referring to Yahoo Rich Search Assist as Google Instant’s bizarro twin brother may have been a bit extreme, but I use the wording to highlight the striking similarities between the two. Both Google Instant and Yahoo Rich Search Assist improve the user experience by showing previews of results as a user types.

I also use the “bizarre” wording to highlight the dissimilarities between the two. Yahoo Rich Search Assist differs from Google Instant in one key way: search results only appear on the top half of the page.  As a user types with the new feature, Yahoo suggests search topics with a quick look at the first result you’d get for each topic. As a user tabs through other suggestions, the preview changes to match the new suggestion. See a video demonstrating the new feature: here.

A novel take on “instant search,” Yahoo Rich Search Assist provides a unique twist on the genre, but not without its consequences. Unlike Google Instant, Yahoo’s version of results previews covers up its advertisements. Yahoo has stated that in its testing phase, the feature has been “revenue neutral,” but when released to the general public the ad covering could potentially pose challenges to search engine marketers.

Yahoo Rich Search Assist is projected to go live in a month or two. Is covering ads a recipe for disaster? What do you think?


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