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Yahoo Suggest: The Good, the Bad, and the Unbelievable

Yahoo Suggest isn't quite the search term suggestion tool that I thought it was...

In my presentation yesterday here at Web 2.0 Expo, I showed Yahoo Suggest as an alternative to Google Suggest for quick-n-dirty keyword research. Both tools are free. Google Suggest is also built into the Google Toolbar's search box, so it's super convenient: just start typing keystrokes and it makes suggestions (think: auto-complete), the suggestions listed in order of popularity. In fact, it was Google Suggest that my daughter Chloe used to identify her top search term, "neopets cheats" and thus named her site "The Ultimate Neopets Cheats Site" since Google Suggest showed that "neopets cheats" was the second most popular search term after "neopets".

Google Suggest works great if you're comparing keywords that start with the same keystrokes, but you can't compare, say, "new cars" with "used cars". Yahoo Suggest has a leg up on Google Suggest, in that regard, since it returns search terms where your keystrokes may be in the middle or end of the search term. Just go to Yahoo and start typing in their search box.

Sounds great, doesn't it? However, when I was showing this in my presentation, it didn't work as expected. In an instant, and in front of a live audience of 400 people, I lost my faith in this Yahoo tool and its data. I used "cars" as an example, and you'll see from the screenshot below that the third most popular suggestion for "cars" is "toyota car malaysia new car cars".

Yahoo Suggest in action
Yahoo Suggest in action

Hmmmm... Not exactly a credible search term suggestion! I have a "Google, I Suggest..." blog, maybe I'd better start one a "Yahoo, I Suggest..." blog too! This could be my first post there. ;-)