Joe Meloni

Yahoo rolled out Axis on Thursday. The tool is the latest major innovation from the floundering search portal that has dealt with declining market share and internal strife for most of the last two years. Axis, which is available as a browser plug-in on PCs and an app on smartphones and tablets, is essentially a browser in and of itself that allows users to quickly access, preview and find content through search. If the tool takes off, marketers may want to pay closer attention to Bing SEO.

Users on desktops and laptops can open the plug-in to see a horizontal pop-up at the bottom of their screen that allows users to search Yahoo from any tab currently open in their browser. The Axis search box appears in the bottom left corner of the browser window. When a user clicks on the tool, the search bar expands, initially displaying different Yahoo sites and trending topics. (Users can customize this menu to see their favorites and other websites.) As a search query is entered, the result previews will shift to show the top results (powered by Bing’s engine) for that search query.

The Axis browser plugin allows users to search Yahoo without leaving the tab they are currently viewing.
The Axis browser plugin allows users to search Yahoo without leaving the tab they are currently viewing.

Five previewed results show up, and users can scroll through the results horizontally. While it seems these results should be based on Bing’s organic search results, a search for Boston produces slightly different results on, and the Yahoo Axis tool.

On mobile devices, the app behaves similarly. The primary difference between the mobile and desktop experience is users won’t be viewing a website while they access Axis on their handsets.Search results for the term "Boston" are different than those from Yahoo despite using the same algorithm.Despite using the Bing algorithm, Yahoo does not show the same results as Bing for searches.

Currently, Axis is available on the iPhone and iPad with an Android release still in the works. On the mobile version, users can instantly share content from Axis results on social networks they regularly interact with or email results to a contact.

The desktop plugin could help Yahoo make some progress on its current search standing. However, the mobile app seems to be the biggest potential winner for Yahoo since it has modified mobile search entirely to show users exactly where they will land should they click on a page. Google’s mobile search apps do not currently have a preview function. The tablet may present the overall best experience for Axis given users’ reliance on apps and search, though StatCounter data says Google currently accounts for more than 94 percent of U.S. mobile searches.

Creating new plugins for search and other web activities on the desktop can help Yahoo, but it’s difficult to make a major impression on those with well established web habits. Pushing the mobile side of the tool could help Yahoo drive Axis use on the desktop.

Search’s role in current web marketing, whether SEO or paid search, has made it especially important for search engines to provide a quality experience to users.

For Yahoo, the rollout of Axis is especially important given its dwindling market share and situation regarding recently ousted CEO Scott Thompson over a resume flap. Brafton recently reported that Yahoo has fallen to 13.5 percent of all queries. The data represents April 2012, when the company dropped from 15.9 in February.