Yahoo! tests real-time search

Yahoo! is including real-time ‘search shortcuts’ at the top of results pages in a trial aimed at improving the search engine’s ability to monitor the real-time web. Yahoo! is following Microsoft and Google in the rush to secure a foothold in what could be the next big battleground in search

Yahoo! says around 10% of its users will begin seeing real-time results alongside searches for certain terms in coming days. Though Yahoo! has not officially named its partners in the tests, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claims the firm is working with search startup OneRiot, along with other unnamed real-time search firms. The WSJ says the OneRiot deal will not extend to revenue sharing. 

“The shortcut will only appear on certain queries that will be determined by Yahoo!. This is a test designed to discover if showing such content is useful to people," says Yahoo!. 

Yahoo!’s decision to begin providing real-time search results follows deals from Microsoft and Google with Twitter to incorporate tweets into their search engines. Though Yahoo!’s deal does not directly involve Twitter, the search engine will have access to tweets as well as information from other sources. This is likely to include Digg recommendations and posts made by OneRiot’s own network of 3m users. 

The new feature is independent of the Yahoo!-Microsoft search deal, which is expected to be implemented early next year. However, once the deal is in place, Yahoo! will also gain access to the information from Twitter which Microsoft is now incorporating into results on its Bing search engine. Microsoft may also be able to use OneRiot’s data. 

Gilbane Group analyst Lynda Moulton says it will be interesting to see the impact of the OneRiot deal as the Microsoft-Yahoo! partnership evolves. 

“The Yahoo!-OneRiot deal is in an experimental phase now, and results over months or even a year or two will make partner decisions clearer,” she says. “However, what is anticipated from partnerships in the short term never seems to materialise or be sustainable anyway. I think it is likely that other game changers will have a bigger impact on their relationship than this.”

Efforts by Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google to incorporate real-time results into their searches are likely to lead to increased competition between the firms as they experiment in the untested area. However, it is unclear how they will monetise the new information. There are suggestions that real-time search could be marketed to businesses as a way of keeping track of ongoing discussions about brands and issues. However, it has yet to be shown that this could lead to a sustainable revenue stream.