Yahoo! Axis is the new browser plugin by Yahoo! which allows people to once again “browse” the web in a visual interface.
My initial thoughts on the interface:
- It is fast! It is also much more intuitive to use than Bing’s Social Search or So.Cl products.
- It is a glorified toolbar in some respects. It is attached to the browser which is a great distribution strategy since it works with the major browsers. Any decent toolbar developer with a Yahoo feed could potentially replicate this quite quickly.
- Ads are either not present or they are very well hidden. I can’t help but think this will not drive more revenue for Yahoo.
- The flip side of the ads argument is that this tool allows you to stay on your favorite site and search at the same time. So essentially the display ads on the main site still maintain a lot of value since the impressions are much longer now.
- This is a huge boost for sites like Facebook. Bing should have really done something like this instead of trying to get people to Bing.com. Given that people spend hours and hours on Facebook a day, allowing them to really get true search results while never leaving their “ecosystem” is huge.
- The touch interface works well with a Mac and iPad but PCs without multi-touch support may not get all the benefits of the simpler UI.
- Images are an interesting way to browse the web, but when it is not fashion or recipe related, the value of an image is greatly reduced. Just seeing a snapshot of a webpage doesn’t help me know if I should be going to that page.
- There is not much in the way of social integration.
- I couldn’t get any video results or image results to appear when searching for things like “lamborghini aventador video” or “lamborghini wallpaper” This seems to be ignoring a large portion of the web.
- Location at the bottom of the screen is “thumb friendly” for tablet devices.
How does Yahoo Axis affect SEO?
From a technical standpoint, it doesn’t change anything in SEO since the search results are largely served by Bing.
However, from a consumer standpoint, the ranking is not hierarchical anymore. It is horizontal indicating a slightly more egalitarian structure. Subliminally if things are placed horizontally most humans will think they are of equal importance. This is very counter intuitive to Google’s vertical ranking which indicates the one at the top is the most relevant.
Another major point from a laymen consumer is that now your site is largely being chosen based on an image block. Most informational websites are designed around text and navigational elements. For example, if you run a company that provides mortuary services, would you put an amazing photo of a dead person or a fancy casket on your home page? Would this image establish the site as an authority and sway the browswer’s opinion in any way? In other words, would this image get me a click?
This is an extreme example but the reality is that many things can not be conveyed in images. Company logos are a great way of creating trust through branding but Yahoo’s interface focuses on a webpage rather than a logo. Most people don’t associate any brand notions with your webpage especially if they have never heard of you nor interacted with you.
Yahoo! is trying to push the web back to 1999 when we were largely “browsing” or “surfing” versus searching in the mid 2000′s. Visual search is being driven by sites like Pinterest but the content it caters to is inherently a subset of the entire internet. Without support of multi-media searches, the Axis tool seems somewhat of a mobiel accessible toolbar and that is not a huge value generator for the consumer. This tool is really focused on publishers keep their users in one place for the majority of the day.
I think Axis has the bones to become a great tool, but this version is not something I will use.