Yahoo March 23 launched Search Direct, a feature that retrieves immediate search results to rival the Google Instant predictive-search technology.
Like Google Instant, Search Direct brings users search results as they type characters, and before they complete a query, hit the search button, or go to a search results page.
The idea is to shave several seconds off all search queries, coaxing users to search more and, ideally for Yahoo, see and click on more ads.
Yahoo executives during the Search Direct launch event at Yahoo's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters marketed the technique as a move to bring users "answers" instead of the signature blue links search engines typically surface.
Direct Search covers top trending searches, movies, TV, sports teams and players, weather, local, travel, stocks and shopping categories on Yahoo.com. Eventually, the service will include popular music and local listings. Currently in beta for U.S. users only, Search Direct will be available in other Yahoo products and markets later this year.
Direct Search demonstrates Yahoo's commitment to its users' search experience despite the fact that Microsoft's Bing search engine powers its results under a 10-year deal that began last August.
Microsoft pays Yahoo 88 percent of search traffic ad sales to power its rival's search engine, though Yahoo is free to innovate on the front end.
Google thrust the real-time, predictive-search technology into the mainstream last September with Google Instant, which expands on the Google Suggest technology by guessing users' queries as they begin to type them.
Marissa Mayer, then vice president of search products and user experience for Google, said at the time users tend to spend 9 seconds, on average, entering a search query into Google.
Early on, Instant appeared to boost Google's search market share, but the company has returned to its usual 65 percent search share range. Yahoo, meanwhile, is hovering around the 16 percent market and is losing share as Bing gains.
Search Engine Land showed how Google Instant beat Search Direct in a handful of quick-and-dirty queries.