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Friday, September 22, 2023

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Head-To-Head: Yahoo Search Direct Vs. Google Instant

Yahoo rolled out Yahoo Search Direct today, its rival to Google Instant. Yahoo says that its service is focused on providing actual answers, while Google’s is focused on bringing back links. True? Let’s have a face-off.

Test 1: Who’s #Winning For Charlie Sheen?

Yahoo says one of the 15 areas that it’s especially focused on right now with Yahoo Search Direct  is that of celebrities. Well, celebrity Charlie Sheen is still making plenty of news. What happens if I try searching for him at both places?

Typing in “charlie…” on Yahoo gives me:

There are links to Sheen’s Wikipedia page, his Twitter account and a YouTube video about him. Those are all links, not answers.

Meanwhile, Google gives me links, too:

But I have to hand this one to Google. In those links are recent news items about Sheen, which I think are better “answers” than what Yahoo is providing.

Test 2: What’s Playing Near Me?

How about movies showing near me. I type in “mov….” and both show me movie information, even before I finish the word. Here’s Yahoo:

Yahoo gives me three links, to Yahoo Movies, to Movies.com and to Fandango.

Here’s Google:

Again, I hand this one to Google. Google has guessed at my location, gotten it pretty correct and shows me local screening information. Sure, it’s one city off — but Yahoo didn’t get my city at all.

Test 2, Subsection A: How About By ZIP Code

Yahoo’s demo suggested that I might get better results for a movie search if I also entered a ZIP code. So, I gave it one near me:

That’s pretty nice, though it misses out two theaters that are actually more convenient to the 92661 ZIP code and instead lists the Edwards Univesity Town Center location that’s farther away.

What’s Google got?

Yes, same thing Google showed before. If I want more from Google, I have to do an extra click:

And the clicking is pretty good — I get the nearby Triangle Square cinema listed, which Yahoo’s Search Direct display missed.

Now, if I clicked into Yahoo’s own movie results, I also find Triangle Square listed. But the point about Yahoo Search Direct is that I’m not supposed to have to make that extra click.

Test 3: What’s The Weather?

In Yahoo’s demo, they seemed to totally trump Google in how typing only “wea…” would present the local weather:

But in reality, I got a different experience:

And at Google?

I actually got the weather for my area, just by typing the letters “Wea….” I’d say that was another win by Google.

Don’t get me wrong — I love that Yahoo’s bringing this new system out. Maybe things will improve, as it gets up to speed. Plus, if I ran more tests, maybe it would come out as more impressive than Google Instant.

But it’s also not correct to dismiss Google Instant as just showing a bunch of links. It’s showing answers, too.

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