Yahoo Games Search Engines

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One of the objects of many ecommerce sites has been to find ways to keep people on their site, to explore what they have to offer. With a search engine, the approach has been to provide answers to questions, and help people find pages outside of the search engine. The better the service, the more likely that someone will return the next time they need to find something.

A recent Yahoo patent application shows a desire to keep visitors around longer:

The web pages provided by the search service providers via which a user can submit a query vary somewhat in layout, content, look-and-feel, etc. but generally include a text box for input of keywords for use in the query. Results of the search are provided in a results page with a list of links to results (i.e., pages found to have content matching the query) and possibly one or more advertisements.

This format results in a search process that is very structured and not particularly entertaining. So, once a user locates information relevant to his interest, the user typically leaves the search service provider’s web page quickly. Further, there is little or no incentive for the user to go back to the search service provider’s web page after the information desired has been located.

The solution it envisions? It describes a number of search related games that seachers can participate in, which might keep them at the search engine, and may award winners with rewards or prizes, possibly related to their search.

User entertainment and engagement enhancements to search system
Invented by Reiner Kraft
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20070016559
Published January 18, 2007
Filed: July 14, 2005


According to one aspect of the present invention, a method of actively engaging a user of a search system can include receiving from the user a search query for a search of a corpus of information and providing the user with search results for the search.

The user can also be prompted to participate in a search-related activity wherein at least one aspect of the search-related activity is dependent on a context of the search. User input for performing the search-related activity can be accepted and an activity response can be provided to the user.

The games would be available to people who are logged into the Yahoo system. Here’s a list of the kinds of games mentioned in the document:

  • – An instant win game,
  • – A riddle game,
  • – A search query competition,
  • – A link location game,
  • – A guessing game,
  • – A link collection competition,
  • – A chain-type riddle game, and;
  • – An elimination-type puzzle competition.

The way the games would work are detailed in the claims section of the patent. Of course, we may not see Yahoo implement the games and rewards described in this patent. Some of the games sound like a lot of fun, though.

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4 thoughts on “Yahoo Games Search Engines”

  1. Yahoo is just trying to build some link bait, I suspect 😉

    Really, how relevant are games to anyone searching for ‘all-weather shoes’. The only benefit of this would be when the result of the game would be the best result for the query or the shoes themselves delivered to the doorstep.

  2. Hi Yuri,

    I don’t know how much this would appeal to people.

    They do have a lot of people actively participating in Yahoo Answers, and it has proven to be pretty popular. Might the enthusiasm shown there flow over into search related games? Would people participate in these games and riddles if they were related to the search somehow? Maybe, and maybe not.

    Would adding games like this influence people to stop using Yahoo if all they wanted to do was search? I don’t think it would.

  3. Hi Steven,

    I like that the games are related to the searches. I don’t know if we will ever get the chance to see the games, but I’d probably try them out if we do.

    I agree with you point that our perspectives, as folks who work closely with search, is probably different in many ways from the average searcher. If they decide to move forward with this, I imagine that it would go through some testing, and might see an initial limited rollout.

  4. Bill I agree this certainly won’t make anyone leave Yahoo if all they were interested in was the search and results.

    I could see people enjoying the games though. Who among us doesn’t enjoy a momentary distraction. I’d also suggest that we as SEOs sometimes forget we’re not quite the typical searcher. It wouldn’t surprise me if many search simply because they’re bored and looking for something to do and in that case they might be very attracted to a game.

    Maybe people won’t take to the games should Yahoo add them, but I don’t think it will hurt anything so why not.

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