Joshua Yu


Yahoo! is best known for its web portal search engine (Yahoo! Search). The search engine is available at http://search.yahoo.com and on it’s main home page http://www.yahoo.com, where you can find anything across the Web. Yahoo! is one of the most popular sites in the United Sates; roughly 700 million people visit their main page every month. Yahoo! reports that it has “more than half a billion consumers every month in more than 30 languages”.

It’s important to note that Microsoft and Yahoo! are working together where Yahoo! Search’s backend is being powered by Bing  (which means all of Yahoo!’s search results should be identical to Bing’s). In addition to Yahoo!’s Web Search, it has specialized search services including: Local, Product SearchAnswers, Maps, Video Search, Directory Search, Mobile Search, Yahoo! Search Blog, Image Search, and News Search. You can see the entire listing here.

On top of its search engine, Yahoo offers a variety of services; some popular ones include: Yahoo! MailYahoo! FinanceYahoo! NewsYahoo! GamesYahoo! Weather, and Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo!’s home page can be a one-stop shop for popular online content, and it has endless applications for your everyday activities.


How to use

To get started, sign up for a Yahoo! account. Yahoo! has made it highly convenient for you where you can sign in with your Facebook or Google account. If you want to create your own personalized Yahoo! ID, you can create a new account here. With your own account, Yahoo! will be able to save your search settings, and gain access to the other services Yahoo! offers. For instance, you will gain access to Yahoo! Mail, Games, and the ability to have a personalized Yahoo! homepage.

Before you start entering search queries, take a look at the Preferences page where you can customize the search engine to your liking (SearchDirect, SafeSearch, SearchScan, Languages, Display & Layout).
When you are finished customizing your preferences and settings, start searching on Yahoo! here.

Comparison with Google Search

Below is a comparison between Yahoo!’s web search engine and Google’s web search on search fundamentals. Throughout this comparison, we will be looking at the following fundamentals of search engines:

  • Autocomplete
  • Related Searches
  • Search Tools
  • Search Shortcuts
At the end of each section, I included a rating system (from 1-5) to rank how Google/Yahoo perform on each feature.
Autocomplete can be a highly useful tool in both finding better search queries while simultaneously saving time. Throughout the test cases, Google had on average four autocomplete suggestions while Yahoo! had nine autocomplete suggestions.  Not only were Yahoo!’s autocomplete suggestions more relevant and thorough, but you could aslo view the Top Sites returned from that suggested search query which is a unique feature that Google does not provide. For the following example, you can see for our “hurricane sandy” search query, you can automatically see the first three search results under the Top Sites section. Yahoo! will often list  Yahoo! News articles underneath this section as well.
Yahoo: 5 Stars
Google: 3 Stars

Related Searches
Related searches is also a timesaver when it comes to finding optimal search queries. On the bottom of Google’s search engine results is the Searches related section. It’s not in the most ideal location since you have to scroll through the entire page while Yahoo!’s is directly to the left of the search results. Google had a maximum of eight related searches while Yahoo had a maximum of five related searches. However, Below Yahoo!’s Related Searches section is their Trending Searches section where it lists related popular search queries that other users are currently searching. Also, if you go to the bottom of Yahoo!’s search results, you will see Yahoo! Search Assist, which provides you with even more related searches (12 maximum). This gives you up to 22 related search queries with Yahoo!’s search engine. Not only did Yahoo! provide more related search queries, the quality and relevancy were superior to Google’s as well. We searched for “thanksgiving recipes” and we got 22 related search queries in total from the three categories mentioned above. As you can see, it provides really helpful and relevant search queries that you can use to help you find what you are looking for.

Yahoo: 5 stars
Google: 2 stars

Search Tools
Google offers a number of Search tools to customize search results. If you click on the “Search tools” button, you will “Any time” on your very left, click on that button and you can change how old the search results can be. The time frame can range anywhere from the past hour to the past year, Google even gives you a custom range option where you can enter specific dates for the results’ timeframe. You can further customize your results by selecting only sites with images, visited pages, not yet visited, and much more. Unfortunately, Yahoo!’s search tools are fairly limited; it only has a Filter By Time option where the only choices are Anytime, Past day, Past week, or Past month. Here Google definitely has the obvious advantage in customizing your search results.

Yahoo: 2 stars
Google: 5 stars

Search Shortcuts
Google offers many useful search shortcuts to get factual information such as: finding release dates for movies, games, etc., finding current movie showtimes, finding score of any current sports game, getting five day weather forecast, calculating/graphic almost anything, converting units of measure/currency, and much much more. While Yahoo!’s search engine has similar search shortcuts, both quality and quantity are lagging behind Google’s search tools. For a comprehensive list of Yahoo!’s search shortcuts click here.

Yahoo: 2 stars
Google: 5 stars

Visual comparison

If you are curious how Google and Yahoo! search results compare to each other, this website provides a cool graphic which allows you to visually see how many of the first 100 search results are the same between Google and Yahoo!. Just type in your search query, and click “compare ’em” and see how many of the dots connect to each other.

How to get the most out of it

If you haven’t signed up for a Yahoo! account yet  you can do it here. Again, the biggest benefit of having a Yahoo! account is saving your search preferences and it gives you access to all the other Yahoo! services. Here are the following preference settings:

  • Search Direct – get answers and suggestions as you type into the search box (Recommend: ON)
  • Safe Search – restrict adult-oriented content from search results
  • Search Scan – protects your computer from questionable sites. (Recommend: ON)
  • Languages – only search results in your selected languages
  • Display & Layout – change the look and feel of the search results page (Here you can change if results open in new tab or window, the number of results per page, and there’s an option of showing more the sites link for web results)

Search Operators

Most of the search operators that Yahoo! offers are also offered by Google. Here is a list of some common search operators that you might find helpful during your search process:

  • “+”: just add the +(plus) symbol in front of each word that must be in the search results. For example,  if you wanted to look up “Thanksgiving recipes” and wanted to make sure they were not just regular recipes, you could search “+Thanksgiving recipes” in the search query.
  • ” “: Finds the exact words in a phrase
  • NOT or  -: Excludes webpages that contain a term or phrase.
  • OR or |: Finds webpages that contain either of the terms or phrases

Since Yahoo!’s back end search engine is Bing, most of Bing’s search operators are also available on Yahoo!’s search engine. For a complete list of Bing’s search operators click here. Yahoo! provides tips for using Yahoo! search effectively which are general fundamental search tips which could be applied to most major search engines.


From our previous comparison, Yahoo! excelled in basic features such as Related Searches and Autocomplete however it lacked the advanced attributes of Google’s search engine. When you are trying to find optimal search queries on a specific topic, Yahoo!’s search engine provides you with the most thorough grouping of related searches which will quickly help you find the optimal search query. With Yahoo’s Autocomplete feature, you can quickly find the search query that you are looking for.

If you are just starting to search about a particular topic and you are unsure about the most optimal search queries for the best results, Yahoo!’s search engine is a better option (as you saw with Related Searches and Autocomplete). In a situation where you want to utilize advanced search tools, and further customize your search results, Google’s search engine will be more effective in this area (as you saw with Search Tools and Search Shortcuts).

Overall, Yahoo!’s search engine definitely is a reliable way to search through the Web for all kinds of information. When you are having difficulty in finding optimal search queries, Yahoo!’s search engine is the way to go!


About the Author

Joshua Yu is a Chinese Boy who was a student in Scott Moore’s class.


To Google or not to Google? Copyright © 2013 by Joshua Yu. All Rights Reserved.