Search Gets More Suggestive

- October 24, 2007

Yahoo has recently added a new feature to their engine that is changing the way we search. The feature is called “Search Assist” and it predicts what you’re searching for and offers suggestions as you type. While this is a new feature for Yahoo, this system has been around for sometime in the Google Toolbar and on Ask.

Search Assist is a great tool and makes life easier for those who use it. It allows you to get results by typing fewer keystrokes and helps you find what you are looking for when you don’t know the exact words to use. However, search assistance brings some new implications for search engine marketing.

Anytime new search features are introduced, people’s search patterns are usually altered. This means that search engine marketers have to understand and adapt. One of the effects of search assistance is that people will create longer searches. Long tail searches will become more common and this will mean more traffic for those keywords.

Another interesting effect is on branding. When typing a brand or company name in the search engine, popular results are suggested as relevant news articles or related keywords. It is interesting what is suggested when you type in the names of certain products. For example, when you type “diet coke” into Yahoo, the first suggestion on the list is for “diet coke and mentos”. Adding mentos to diet coke leads to a major eruption that makes for a cool science experiment. However, marketers at the Coca-Cola Company might not want that to be the first thing suggested to people who type in their product.

Search suggestions are just one of the many ways we’ll see our search behavior change in the next few years. The effect of the suggestions will be even bigger when Google launches search suggestions on its main search page. Little changes, like a list of suggested queries will have some profound effects. Search engines play such a major role in the internet that it doesn’t take a drastic change to cause a serious impact on organizations.

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