One of the folks over in Yahoo! Search sent me a pointer to Showing Yahoo Some Search Results Love which says, among other things:

As we've pointed out on several occasions at the Internet Marketing Monitor, Yahoo generally has much better results for searches based on current events.

And then:

But it's hard to argue that, strictly as a search engine, Yahoo is behind. But the best way to see which you prefer is simply to test them. Do identical searches on Google and Yahoo...

And that struck a chord with me because of something that happened just yesterday.

A friend had mentioned something about a movie we had seen winning an Oscar. So hit Ctrl+K (change focus to the search box in Firefox) and typed in "2007 oscar winners" in the hopes of finding the list of winners.

Well, I could go on to describe how I didn't find what I was looking for, switched to Yahoo! Search (something I hadn't done in a long time), and found it right away with the same query.

But I decided to ask myself "What Would Jon Udell Do?" and then made a little screencast (3MB Windows Media format) to demonstrate this instead.

Disclaimer(s): It's my first "real" screencast. You'll note the lack of sound. I tried to find some suitable music but got distracted by other things. I also tried putting it on-line as an embeddable flash video, but the quality sucked. So you get the full-resolution version. Also, I know about Google News and Yahoo News, but I like to use web search when I think it should work.

Making screencasts is fun. I'm gonna do more of this. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at February 27, 2007 08:37 PM

Reader Comments
# Alex Iskold said:

So this is great demo :) It would be great to see more of these site by site to make the case.

There is a site that makes comparisons easier:


on February 27, 2007 09:28 PM
# Palakkadan said:

Click on Alex's link to see the magic vanish.

Yahoo no longer brings up the Yahoo! link before the results , code apparently is looking for the word "winners"

Skip the plural the event is no longer Current :)

Now lets widen current by a year & search for '2006 Nobel Prize Winners' ?

Umm maybe Oscars > Nobel @ Yahoo && No_Editor_Sitting_Typing_Fancy_HTML_For_Nobel_AT_Yahoo :)

Now search for "2006 olympic gold medal winners"

The relevant result comes in at #3 on google , even though the first link leads us to a site with relevant information.
Yahoo's 3rd link is google's first link , with the first 2 links of yahoo not at all related to 2006 olympics.

So events covered by yahoo are the only "current" events ?

on February 27, 2007 10:01 PM
# Richard Curry said:

What software do you use to make the screencast? It looks well done.

on February 27, 2007 11:06 PM
# Andrei USA said:

I like the second comments. It seems that Google serves "2006 olympic gold medal winners" and '2006 Nobel Prize Winners' MUUCH better than yahoo. Why? What is the current event? when does it expire?

on February 27, 2007 11:15 PM
# Luis Alberto Barandiaran said:

Ahem... did you clicked on the Google results? Any of them?

At least 2 of the 3 news results (one of them no longer appears, so I can't be sure), shows among other things, the list of winners of the 2007 oscars...

The "homepage" you refer to is the official Oscar homepage, who among other things, shows the 2007 oscar winners in the front page, with lots of inlinks to more information.

The second homepage link (from the same Official Site), shows lots of great info, and a prominent link that says and I quote: "View complete list of nominees and winners".

The third one the first thing that shows is... the list of 2007 oscar winners...

So, even though it's great that Yahoo did it's own coverage of the Oscars, that's the one and only reason it appears on top when you search on (...guess where...), the Yahoo page.

So really there's no mistery when a Yahoo page is depicted as the first result in a query made on the Yahoo's search box. The fact of the matter is that Google shows results from OTHER companies, and not THEMSELVES, which is one of many reasons people prefer them over the competition.

on February 27, 2007 11:48 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Yes, I did click around a bit on the Google results. None of them gave me want I wanted: a list of the winners. I didn't want to read news stories, I just wanted to know who won. had (and still does have) a teaser on it, not a list of all ther winners. I wanted fewer clicks, not more.

You say: "The fact of the matter is that Google shows results from OTHER companies, and not THEMSELVES, which is one of many reasons people prefer them over the competition."

But I contend that relevance is more important than the source for the information. I'd have read a page from Hillary Clinton's campaign site if it was a list of the winners.

Your defense of Google is entertaining, but has absolutely nothing to do with getting to the answers I wanted. I guess you didn't read the " the hopes of finding the list of winners." part from my post?

Something tells me that if Google had inserted an inline list of winners in the results (like they might for weather, stock quotes, or airline flights), you'd be spouting off about that. But they didn't so I had to go elsewhere.

on February 27, 2007 11:54 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


That's all well and good if you're trying to poke holes in a search engine. But I didn't experiment with this query in some effort to find one that makes Yahoo look better than Google. I don't have that kind of spare time on my hands.

I simply tried the first thing that came to mind (like most people do) and was happy to find what I wanted on Yahoo.

The WHOLE POINT is that it *just worked* but I guess you missed that. How could I have said it more clearly?

on February 27, 2007 11:59 PM
# Luis Alberto Barandiaran said:

Hi again ;)

I didn't really wanted to "defend" google, as much as I didn't want to "spout" of Yahoo! (in fact I do use Yahoo! for a lot of research oriented queries).

It's true you have to do a click or two in the Oscar's homepage to find the Full list of winners. For some reason, they only give a partial list, and a "clic here" for the rest of the info. IMO unless manual correction is involved, the algo (Y! or G!) wouldn't detect that.

"Relevance is more important than the source for the information". Perhaps if you had shown a result set of better results than Google's I would agree with your point, because in essence, we are talking about search here, right?

If it were me, I would reword "Yahoo generally has much better results for searches based on current events."

To say something like:
"Yahoo generally has much better coverage of current events." (I know you didn't say this, but your post is based from this)

Best regards,

Luis Alberto

on February 28, 2007 12:18 AM
# Feng Qu(A prod Yahoo! employee) said:

Hello world, we are coming back to the top again.
Panama, Pipes and more coming :)

on February 28, 2007 07:22 AM
# Don MacAskill said:

I'm not sure what happened but a few (maybe as many as 6?) months ago, Yahoo's results dramatically improved overnight.

Now, I base much of this off the single most important search term I care about, 'photo sharing', but it applied to other terms, too.

Sometime last year SmugMug was on page 20 or lower on Yahoo. Yes, that's right. For a long time, too (years?). The previous 19 pages were filled with sites I'd never heard of and neither had Alexa or any other online stats sites.

Then, like magic, Yahoo's results got much much better. Today, we're usually on the first page or two. There's still some noise there (PhotoShite and MyPhotoAlbum are above Flickr, SmugMug, Photobucket, Snapfish, etc?), but most of the players are recognizable and the order is reasonable.

Google's got plenty of noise in their results, too:

DropShots? 23hq?

Anyway, the point being, that Yahoo's results sure seem competitive to me again. Kudos to whomever at Yahoo has been feverishly fixing things. Perfect timing, as I'm sure you're aware, for Panama too. :)

on February 28, 2007 09:51 AM
# Scott said:


Actually, although I get a bit irritated with the Google 'tips' that use to show up, for some reason, with this search, I prefer's search result.

In many cases Google gave "tips" to use Google products rather than simply displaying something of value.

Check this search out:
How much more useful is that search than -either- of Google or Yahoo's search? Less clutter and less, hey "check out GooHoo's" X product (the way that Blogger and similar searches had shown in the past when searching on blog).

But it is def. give and take as the engines try different ways of displaying info and trying to get into the searcher's head.

Compare these searches. I think G wins this one:
But not because the info is that much different than Yahoo's but because the format is much less cluttered looking.

on February 28, 2007 12:25 PM
# John said:

This brings up a good point. I don't understand why more google competitors don't try to show that they are "BETTER" and more relevant in search. Instead they spend their millions on advertising trying to build branding. Sometimes you need to take the money away from the marketing grads and give it to the people that know how the product works. The key to gaining market share in search is not to build branding, get more people to use your toolbar, etc, it's to have better results and then tell people about it, specifically the "nerds" in the computer world. I think a ad campaign with screen shots just like you provided in 15 second commercials on TV would do more for your search traffic than any amount of goofy cute ads that your marketing department could come up with. Sometimes you've got to forget about the sizzle and actually sell the steak.

It worked for Google.

on February 28, 2007 02:04 PM
# Alex said:

Why oh why Windows Video?
How to watch it on a non-Windows box?

on March 1, 2007 12:43 AM
# Marcus Kazmierczak said:

Alex - you can watch it on a Mac using Flip4Mac WMV,
but it shows very pixelated and a black background shows through on the browser window making it practically useless.

Jeremey - your desktop background shows through fine, the titles and text shows fine. Just the browser window. I'm not sure if this is due to the title screen or what.

on March 1, 2007 09:04 AM
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