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John Battelle's blog points out a new search offering from Yahoo! Labs called "Mindset." At the top of the results page you get a bar with a "slider." On the left is "shopping" and on the right is "research." What it allows the user to do is indicate whether s/he is more interested in performing research or buying something.

The results change accordingly.

This is a very intriguing innovation and, ironically, similar to what I was describing in my recent post about getting the user to indicate his/her intent and where s/he is in the buying cycle as a way to deliver a more relevant search result and/or targeted ads.

MSN has started down this path with its "results ranking" tool as part of the search builder feature of MSN Search. But it doesn't offer anything so explicit or accessible.

I have some questions about how sites are tagged or otherwise categorized in order to serve them up as "shopping" or "research" results. It's also a little ambiguous what the vast middle ground between the two extremes delivers — sites that are more shopping than research oriented? It's not obvious.

However, I think Yahoo! is doing something very interesting. Rather than building radically complex algorithms to divine the user's intent (which they're probably compelled to do anyway), it simply asks the user what s/he wants.

It also helps create different inventory for advertisers (as I suggested in my earlier post) and it theoretically helps provide a better, more relevant search experience. Because rather than second guessing the user's intent from a couple of key words, Yahoo! is soliciting users' input directly.

Radio buttons or tabs might be simpler, but this approach is a going to be something we'll watch with considerable interest.

More "hands on" information at Search Engine Roundtable.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Yahoo’s development of a specialized search application which asks users to explicitly identify buy cycle search qualifiers recalls search engines’ investments in redirecting users to specialized local searches requiring local qualifiers. Data on Yahoo Local, Google Local successes (or not) in soliciting and training users to use their local applications for local searches rather than their generic search boxes may provide insight into the viability of strategies requiring focused user inputs and efforts.

  2. Bottom line: it has to be simple. I agree with your statement that local and the willingness of people to enter modifiers may be a something of an indicator for their willingness to get involved with specifying additional information as part of the search.

    It's still early in the modifier game however, as people are still learning about Google and Yahoo local. So the jury's still out on that one, although local search is clearly growing.

    This one (Mindset) will be interesting to watch. Yahoo's MySearch was radically improved when it became MyWeb. I expect them to improve this and ultimately integrate it into their general search offering.

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