Yahoo Search Assist Gets More Local, But Google Gets It Right

As you type into a search box on Yahoo or Google, a list of suggested keywords pops down below to help you complete your search faster. Today, Yahoo turned on a local component to its keyword autocomplete feature. The search assist now serves up different keywords based on your location.

So if you type in “Santa” in northern California, “santa clara county” might be the first suggestion, but if you type it in southern California, “santa barbara” might be first.

Location is often a very relevant way to filter search, so this makes Yahoo’s search assist smarter. But, as with many things Yahoo, it is lagging behind Google with this feature. Google’s search assist also factors in your location. And, from what I can tell, it does it better.

I’ve been trying a few sample local searches, and in every case, it takes Google fewer characters to come up with the right answer. For example, I am in New York, and all I need to do is type the first four letters of Grand Central Station (“gran”) to get that as the top suggestion. With Yahoo, I need to type seven letters, “grand ce,” and complete the first word to get it to be the top suggestion. If I type “gran,” grand central doesn’t even appear as an option. Instead, the top options are “grand ole opry” and “grand canyon,” both thousands of miles away from me. (Not that those are horrible suggestions, they are just not good local suggestions).

I tried the same test with various other keywords. Google beat Yahoo every time. My experience, of course, is merely anecdotal. How does it work for you.