Yahoo Launches “Axis” a Visual Way of Searching Focussed on Devices

Yahoo Launches “Axis” a Visual Way of Searching Focussed on Devices

24th May 2012

It is time for change people. Change in the search engines. After Bing and Google now Yahoo decided to bring in a whole new way of searching: Yahoo! Axis.

With Axis Yahoo! introduces a way of searching which is much more visual and, as Yahoo claims, with much more interaction, “all without ever leaving the page you are on.

Yahoo off course is excited about the new release. Shashi Seth, senior vice president, Connections, Yahoo! Inc. says:

“Our search strategy is predicated on two core beliefs—one, that people want answers, not links and two, that consumer-facing search is ripe for innovative disruption, With Axis, we have re-defined and re-architected the search and browse experience from the ground up.”

Is it a search engine or a browser?

When you look at the introduction video of Axis below in the first sentence the product manager for Yahoo Axis is “a complete new kind of browser”. So it is a browser, not search?

Well no, it really is search. It starts with a search and it gives you back results, so yes, that is search right there. So why the name ‘browser’? Maybe because they feel they couldn’t compete with Google or Bing when they would call it search?

Let’s start by looking at the introduction video:

Integration with desktop browser (except Chrome)

Yahoo! hopes to get people to use Axis by integrating it with all browsers and connecting it to multiple devices. However, within hours of the launch Yahoo! had to pull the integration with the newest largest player in the browser-war: Chrome. Security issues made they had to withdraw it from Chrome.

The plugin makes that you will be able to search while staying on the page you are on. At the bottom of the screen the previews of the results will be shown.


Looking at Axis it looks a lot as if this was specifically built with tablets in mind. The visual element with previews of the results is very much focussed on sliding through results and clicking on images. Indeed, the ten blue links are really gone.

Yahoo! also makes sure that all devices are connected. Do a search on your ipad and you can continue the search on a different device, while a homepage goes with you through devices.

Instant answers

If there is one trend, next to social, which we are seeing with all search engines at the moment, it’s direct answers or instant answers. Giving answers to the questions you are asking the search engine. It is in essence what search engines were invented for, but now the focus seems to be really on them.

Yahoo! Axis also gives us instant answers. Start typing ‘weather’ and you will start seeing the weather in the area you are in at that specific moment of time. And type any other search and you will see instant previews appearing right away. It is the visual enhanced version of Google Instant.

Get started

To get started you can download the plugin from for your desktop. It will recognize which browser you are using. After installation you will get a quick tour and off you go.

Does it work?

Big question off course is, does it work? Well first off all, it does indeed look nice at the bottom of the screen:

But let’s try and do a search and see what we are getting. As always I will try an ‘ego search’ on State of Search, to see if we show up. Here’s the result:

So a search on “State of Search” does NOT result in us showing up there. Is this just bad SEO from us? Could be, but if you look at the results it doesn’t seem to be that.

Neither one of the results actually has anything to do with search what so ever. No SEMPO report, no post on Searchengineland or Searchenginewatch on the actual state of search and no Results are about Seattle mostly. On top of that the previews shown are hardly appealing.


Ok, so maybe this is a fluke. Let’s try a more general search. A search on “Facebook” gives us the following results:

That looks a lot better with Facebook and Wikipedia as first results. But to be honest: I could built a search engine which will show these two first on a search like that, so we need to make it a bit more difficult.

A search for “SEO Specialist” gives us these results:

While a search for “Theatre London” gives us:

What can we conclude?

We can conclude that although something looks nice, it doesn’t make the results better. Something which many search engines seem to be forgetting these days. Not all results are accurate or even close to what we are searching for. But to be honest: that is not just Yahoo’s problem.

But when it comes to why people use specific search engines it really is important to get the right results. If you don’t find what you are looking for you are bound not to use that search engine again.

Secondly the ‘main feature’ of Yahoo is the previews. And it turns out that on many searches the previews just aren’t there. If you claim to have the previews, make sure they actually show up.

I do like that Yahoo! is giving it a shot at least and a good sign is the focus on the different devices. That is a step forward and a step the other engines will have to make soon as well. But whether or not this will help get Yahoo! back on their feet? I don’t think this will be the killer app. But at least they are taking steps right?

One other search engine will be happy with Yahoo’s release as well: Bing. Because they after all are powering the search on Yahoo.

Did you try it? Give it a go and let us know your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook Page where we just opened a discussion on the topic.


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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