Yahoo Busts Out Accordion for Search

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searchADOTAS – I hate accordions. That may be because I’m still haunted by a New Year’s Eve party in which my then-girlfriend and the bass player in my band played a drunken round of dueling accordions at 4 a.m. You don’t know suffering until you’ve heard two wasted girls struggling through Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on accordion while singing painfully off-key.

So I tittered involuntarily when I heard Yahoo employed an accordion structure in revamping its search product, something the company discussed during its Product Runway event. First, it just seems funny to hear the words Yahoo and search product in close proximity these days, especially since Binghoo went live and Microsoft powers all of Yahoo’s searches.

But the new Yahoo search is not Bing — now when you search, you can slide category tabs across the top of the browser, organizing searches by subtopics. For starters, I noticed overview, images, video, news and Twitter — not every search will include that many tabs, or any tabs. But the tabs that do appear slide across the screen, somewhat resembling a wheezing accordion .

The left panel offers quick links to pages on popular sites like Wikipedia and CNN. Also, a recommendation engine displays related topics as users type in queries. “Pink Floyd” also brought up “Roger Waters” and “The Wall.”

In addition, the updated search engine’s results are built on HTML5, making them optimized for iOS and Android mobile devices.

In theory it’s pretty cool — it completely differentiates Yahoo’s offering from Bing and Google while keeping up Yahoo’s user-friendly reputation. But in practice I was a bit disappointed — perhaps I wasn’t searching for hot enough stuff, but I was expecting more tabs.

Bing has been steadily gaining search share by offering a solid alternative to Google; Microsoft is probably hoping that Yahoo’s new search product will chip away at Google’s lead, but Bing made inroads by stealing Yahoo’s fire. It would suck for Microsoft if it just cannibalized search share from Bing through it’s Yahoo outlet…

Just like Bing, the new Yahoo search isn’t going to attract the masses overnight, but we’ll have to keep an eye on the comScore search rankings to see its effect on the space. If users are attracted to this clever model, that’s when SEM and SEO pros can make themselves concerned.

Here’s a video that goes into more detail on top of some atrocious elevator music.

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