On February 18th, 2004, Yahoo! stopped using Google to power its search capabilities and staked its own claim in the search sphere. Consider it their birthday, or better yet, Yahoo!’s independence day.
Five years to the day after cutting ties with Google, Yahoo! posted both a look back on search, and an update on what’s to come from Yahoo!. The look back is, obviously, old news; the look forward is a bit more interesting. Within the usual generic mission statements of improving search, such as “…focusing on detecting and responding better to query intent…” or “…breaking the ten-blue-links paradigm by developing a richer, more adaptive search results page…” is a call to improve a little known search function called Search Pad.
Yahoo! Search Pad is a note-taking application within Yahoo! Search that keeps track of websites a user finds and organizes information found to complete tasks like performing research or shopping. Search Pad tucks neatly away at the top of search results and is easily called out to view the websites you’ve visited, edit or delete them, and what’s probably the most helpful, take notes directly underneath the sites that Search Pad has collected as you’ve searched.
Yahoo! put together this quick demo for a better look into how Search Pad will function.
I usually open a word-processing document or use sticky notes or a notepad to keep track of sites I’ve visited for research or prices of products I’m comparing. With Search Pad, all that grunt work is condensed into a simple tool that collects visited sites as you search and lets you type quick notes or copy and paste whole samples of text underneath the visited site.
You can also save the note with your research, email it, or convert it into a simple, print-friendly version if you want to take it with you.
All in all, Yahoo! Search Pad is what Google Search Wiki wishes it could be. And from my professed problems with Google’s platform, it’s easy to see why. Search Pad has actual real world applications for the average searcher. You don’t have to perform the same search in Yahoo! to see the notes you’ve made or the sites you’ve visited. Simply save, print or email the Search Pad note containing your comments and websites, and you’re good to go. You don’t have to repeat searches, you don’t have to feel like Big Brother is keeping an eye on your search habits, and you don’t even necessarily have to be logged into a Yahoo! account to take full advantage.
One of my biggest problems with Google Search Wiki is that it wasn’t made for the Average Joe who uses a search engine on a day to day basis. It was made by search engine engineers for people in the search marketing industry. Don’t believe me? Ask a friend who doesn’t work in this business if they’ve even heard of Search Wiki. Then, when they say no, explain both of these applications to them. Dollars to donuts they’d say, just like I did, “Wow, Search Pad is something I can use for everyday tasks!” It’s a useful tool that is geared for the average searcher, with useful everyday applications.
It’s not often we hear Yahoo!’s praises being sung over Google’s these days. But Google just may want to take a page or two from Yahoo!’s book… err Pad, when it comes to developing tools that connect with their users.