Yahoo Refines Image Search to Trump Google

Yahoo releases a refinement tool for Yahoo Image Search, a tool that helps users virtually tour destinations, such as countries and states, without leaving their starting point for search results. The search engine improvement, with the specter of Microsoft's Bing in the background, makes Yahoo a strong choice over Google Image Search.

Yahoo July 24 introduced some improvements to its Yahoo Image Search engine that will help users more easily search pictures to plan vacations and trips to various locales.

A new travel image search refiner mechanism allows users to search a state or country, and peruse pictures of destinations in that geographical area without leaving the original search results page. The feature has to be tested to be understood.

For example, a search on California returns images of Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Disneyland Resort. By clicking on the Disneyland option, users will see an overlay of images so they can virtually tour image results without leaving the starting point of their search results.

Image result choices appear in a left-hand rail. Click on any of the destination choices, and the images will fill the right section of the page. Users can move from Disneyland results to Golden Gate Bridge to Yosemite to Alcatraz simply by clicking those selections in the left-hand rail.

Yahoo's Image Search programmers have made it much easier so users don't have to frequently type in new results to refine location searches.

"With the new travel image refiner, we are continuing our focus on satisfying user intent through a deeper understanding of the Web and presenting related objects from the real world," Yahoo's Image Search team wrote in a blog post.

"The travel image refiner taps into this 'Web of Objects' and lets you explore these popular points of interest, giving you more contextual information about your destination."

The Yahoo Image Search refiner is currently available for location-specific searches, but Yahoo plans to expand this capability to other types of image searches as well.

Such a convenience lends a small boost to Yahoo, which is looking to trump Google in image search. In the midst of summer, many users are searching the Web for pictures to get a better handle on what vacation and sight-seeing spots might have in store for them. By making it easier, Yahoo has potentially given itself some leverage over Google, whose own image search results are less efficient.

For example, when users go to Google Image Search and type in California, they will get some of the same destination image results, including the Golden Gate Bridge. However, when users want to navigate among these images, they are taken to separate pages and have to keep clicking the back arrow button to navigate among the destination pictures.

Google's Image Search, while accurate, is unwieldy compared with Yahoo's new refined Image Search. The distinction is a small victory for Yahoo, which is trying to boost its 19.5 percent search market share at the expense of Google's 65 percent plot.

Further complicating competition for Yahoo is Microsoft's Bing search engine, which has helped the company grow search share to 8.4 percent. However, rumors abound that Yahoo and Microsoft may be partnering on search advertising.

This is something that won't likely help Yahoo win more market share, but it could pad the company's pockets if Microsoft starts serving ads on Yahoo's search engine.