Both Google and Yahoo have recently unveiled what amount to big changes to their well-known look and feel.
While search engines are constantly tinkering, the timing of the Yahoo and Google changes makes it appear the two firms are engaged in a kind of mini-makeover smackdown.
Yahoo’s main site is getting a whole new look, the first Yahoo site makeover since 2004. (Want a preview? Click here.)
On the new Yahoo page, there’s now one-click access to weather forecasts, movie listings and other topic-specific searches. Also, there are links to My Yahoo personal Web pages and Yahoo e-mail.
At Google, the changes are a little harder to spot, but significant nonetheless.
Over the past few weeks, it’s become apparent that Google has now fully unleashed its onebox technology for refining search results by any number of topics.
Google’s been monkeying with oneboxes for a while. But just a month ago, onebox sightings were so rare that each merited lots of news reports.
But now they show up routinely in Google search results, suggesting that Google’s rolled the feature out across the board.
For example, say someone searches at www.google.com for the word “flu.” The results contain the usual lists of Web sites with the word flu. But there’s also now always a “refine results” section, where Google provides a way to search about flu treatments, symptoms and any number of other related topics.
Oneboxes serving as a conduit to Google’s local search feature are now also a routine part of Google results.
And the changes keep coming. Starting this week, Google activated its “Notebook” feature, which serves as a kind of electronic Post-it for Web addresses to revisit, or info from the pages themselves. Users now see a “Note This” option underneath every result. Also, the Notebook feature for desktops is up and running.