Recently, Yahoo! and Google have both been adding new options to their search engine result pages (SERPs). These options include Google’s PlusBox and and Yahoo’s Quicklinks. Illustrated below is Google’s PlusBox for Walmart. They have a PlusBox for their stock quote that expands to give stock information. Along with that, they have category or sub-page links within their site. Google typically does this for strong authorative Websites with a high amount of Trust Rank.
Another example below shows Google’s PlusBox being used for localized search. They have a PlusBox that shows the localized listing in the SERPs with their map, address, and phone number. You don’t have to be an extreme authority to have a PlusBox with this type of localized integration.
Yahoo’s Quick Links are similar to Google showing subpages for authorative sites. However, Yahoo! will also be charging for these Quick Links if you’re a site that doesn’t get them naturally. The think I like better about these Quick Links in the search engine result pages is that they are inline horizontally. Thus, they take up less room.
Good or Bad Usability Practices?
In my opinion, I think Google and Yahoo! are getting out of hand with their SERPs. I firmly believe in allowing the Websites, authorative or not, to display their prominent content to the user (i.e. stock quotes, maps, sub pages, shopping categories, etc.). It is a search engine’s job to display quality and relevant results to queries, but it is not the search engines job to display a site’s content to the user.
When you have more options on a Webpage you have more:
- Load Time
- Bandwidth (a problem for mobile search)
I think Google became the most popular search engine not by their results but by their simplistic user interface and good usability. Both Yahoo! and MSN have searches integrated into their news pages whereas Google has just had a single standalone search box.
I’m sure I stand alone on this because I’m sure Google and Yahoo! both held extensive case studies, focus groups, stakeholder research, and testing before putting this into motion. I guess they know what they’re doing, but I’m annoyed by it. Sometimes less is more, right?