Yahoo Unveils Smart Search Features

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Yahoo's new search features aim to give users a smarter search, predicting what they are searching for to provide better results.

Yahoo introduced Quick Links this week, offering links such as Yahoo Maps, a company's address or products a retailer is selling based on technology that assumes what information the user needs when typing in search terms.

Quick Links "tries to guess the most-used information about that page and promotes it into the summaries for search results," Kalpana Ravinarayanan, product manager at Yahoo Search, said in Yahoo's Search Blog.

Yahoo is not the only engine trying to provide results based on predicting what users mean when they type in a search term. Google technicians are constantly trying to make its search technology more "human."

In a test on some Google pages, a new set of results appears in a separate section near the bottom of the page. The separate set of listings uses a search technology that tries to determine what the user is seeking by adding relevant words to the search. For example, a search for "less than" produces a list of five links that pertain to that term. A title in a separate section below that reads, "See results for less than symbol."

Meanwhile, Quick Links ties in Yahoo features related to the user's search, in some cases. In others, Quick Links includes information from the company or from other Web sites. For example, in search results for a restaurant, results now include the restaurant's address, a map and the option to send directions to the restaurant to the searcher's cell phone.

In results for -- the top listing when users search for Wal-Mart -- searchers are provided with Quick Links to "Find a Store," "Online Catalog" and "In Stores Now," a page on the company's site featuring new items in Wal-Mart stores.

Yahoo's recent launch of Instant Search in beta also provides a smarter type of search, letting consumers get "instant answers" when typing in terms. As users type, Instant Search immediately displays the most relevant result for the most popular queries directly beneath the search box. Then, they can immediately access the answers by clicking a "CTRL Enter" hotkey.

The feature lets users "get to answers quickly without having to go to a search results page," Mihir Shah, director of product management for Yahoo Search, told DM News.

Yahoo also launched Yahoo Shortcuts, a quick way to reach information within search results. A shortcut appears when it is relevant to the search and can contain links to content from Yahoo and its partners, or elsewhere on the Web.

"The shortcuts are based on where we see demand from users, where it is logical and where we have content available on Yahoo," Shah said.

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