Yahoo! and MSN both tweaking their search

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 4 July 2004

New designs left, right and centre in the search world over the last couple weeks. Or rather Yahoo! and MSN have done their hardest to ape the cleanliness look that Google pioneered. My first look at Yahoo! was impressed not so much by the design, but by the fact that they expose sites with RSS feeds in their search results, with an option (if you are logged in) to add them straight to your My Yahoo! RSS Reader.

Screengrab of the new look Yahoo! search results page

As often happens when you notice nifty little features like this, I then checked the current design and found it exists in that as well, and has probably been there since 1862. But I only just got it, OK? As a feature it still needs a bit of work on it though - the "View as XML" link for currybetdotnet goes through to the feed for the linklog, yet at #3 in the results we see the right index.rdf feed for the blog as a whole. (But then I guess not everybody has their multiplicity of feeds labelled and organised as badly as I currently do). I also noted that Yahoo! didn't pick up that BBC News Online was available via RSS.

The MSN look is even less-cluttered, although I guess that is because this appears to be more of a technical test than a vehicle to sell advertising.

Screengrab of the MSN technology preview search results page

Mind you, with Microsoft's recent decision to go "clean" with its main MSN search results, perhaps we are seeing the beginnings of Microsoft positioning itself in the search-good-guys corner. An unlikely place for them to be standing, but then there does seem to be a little more openess about Microsoft these days - one only has to look at the tone of the language inviting you into the search technology test or visit the product feedback wikis at Channel 9 to see something is afoot with their corporate culture.

Screengrab of the entry point to the MSN search technology test site

And the Microsoft results? Must try harder is the verdict I think. This site doesn't come first for "currybet" - admittedly the first result is my personal space at the bbc.co.uk collective site, but I'm not impressed with a search engine that puts a one page member profile above all the work that goes into here. At #3 is Webmasterworld, based on the fact that at the time of indexing I had started one of the threads on the homepage using my member name currybet. Now that's not a good algorithmic ranking in my book.

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