Yahoo! Testing New Search Look

Yahoo is testing a new look and feel for its search results pages, just a week after Microsoft’s MSN made some changes of its own.

The new search look, currently being tested at, gives paid placement listings from Overture a consistent appearance: they are now all surrounded by colored boxes. Previously, only the ads on the right hand side of the page sported a colored background. Microsoft’s MSN took a similar approach when it unveiled its new look last week.

The portal player also takes the wraps off a suggestion feature, “Also try,” which appears at the top of the listings. A search for “bill clinton” turns up suggestions that the user try “bill clinton book,” “president bill clinton,” or “bill clinton pictures.”

The color-coding of the paid placements also allows Yahoo to eliminate the stark red horizontal lines it previously used to delineate results from Yahoo News, Overture advertisers, and its main Web index. The red type it previously used is also absent in the new design. That’s been replaced by more muted gray lettering.

Echoing Google’s March redesign, Yahoo eliminates the tab metaphor it had used to allow users to toggle between the various types of searches: Web, images, directory, yellow pages, news, and products. In the beta test, these categories now appear above the search box.

The redesign beta test comes at an interesting time for Yahoo The company is set to announce its second quarter earnings — which are expected to be quite strong — on Wednesday after the market closes. It also comes as paid inclusion, a paid search product Yahoo re-launched with great fanfare in March, comes under increased scrutiny from those who say it taints the relevance of results. In MSN’s re-launch last week, the portal, which uses Yahoo’s search results, dropped paid inclusion listings on its site. Ask Jeeves earlier decided to phase out the vestiges of its paid inclusion program. Google has long eschewed paid inclusion.

Yahoo representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Related reading