Google grabbed the Web search headlines on Wednesday with splashy news that it was revamping its main page and blending results for all kinds of media indexed into one place -- not just text on Web pages, but video content, images and local map-related results. Previously, searchers had to conduct separate searches on Google's video, image and other search sites.
But Yahoo representatives say big deal -- they already do that. "We are blending that information already," Eckart Walther, vice president of product search at Yahoo, said on Thursday. "For a lot of the queries we have the same multimedia content, we just don't make it as quick to access."
Was Google's news overblown? Not really, says Danny Sullivan, founder of the Search Engine Land blog.
"You can't take away from the fact that Google is trying something really different with those Web results," he said. "It's a big, dramatic change for Google itself, and potentially for the search system."
Google's new interface offers thumbnails for videos that play the video clip on the page when clicked on instead of just offer links to pages where the videos can be viewed. Also, Google is incorporating local search results, with maps and local listings related to searches among the results in the redesign.
"What Google is doing is replacing some of the Web pages with more specialized data," says Sullivan. Google is trying to say not only are we giving you one single list (of results), but they are also going further and determining the relevancy in that list" from all the different types of content.
Yahoo may not be exactly doing that on its main Web search results but has such one-stop search functionality on its mobile platform with oneSearch, Walther said.
In addition, Walther noted that Yahoo has offered translated results for non-English Web searches for about two years now, something Google says is coming soon.
Granted, Yahoo "hasn't seen massive pickup on it yet," said Walther. Maybe because it's available for German, French, Japanese and Chinese, and most people in Germany and France speak English as a second language. Google's translation efforts are likely to include languages where English is less widespread, such as Arabic-speaking countries, judging from the examples they gave during their presentation to members of the media.
Will Yahoo launch the translation in other languages? "It may be time to revisit that," Walther said.
Yahoo has focused its efforts on social search, like Yahoo Answers, instead. "Yahoo Answers sort of provides the same feature," he said. "You can use machines to try to translate things or use humans to translate things ... leveraging the local community" is faster and easier.
The Google news and Yahoo retort highlight the fact that the major search engines are in a perpetual race to add new features and improve on the Web site design. Google benefits from a double standard with regard to the public, Sullivan said.
"If Yahoo had done that a lot of people would have said you are cluttering it up? slowing things down," he said. "When Google does it, it sets the standard" for others to follow.
So, expect video thumbnails to appear soon on search results pages of Google rivals, Sullivan added.
Google also knows how to work the media. "Google learned that if they do an entire day devoted to search they're going to get good press. Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask don't do that," he said. "Google played the PR side of things very, very well with this."