Yahoo has launched Y!Q, an first attempt at developing a contextual search. The aim is pretty ambitious for both users and websites. If you are on a web page, the Y!Q toolbar will let you highlight text, click a button, and “automagically” (yes, Yahoo really did make this word up!) relevant results will be returned. If you manage a website, you can incorporate Y!Q into the site, allowing relevant results to be returned to any visitor to your site (although don’t forget that your major competitor may be returned as a result!). Clearly if this concept takes off, then anyone involved in online marketing needs to be very careful about what results will be returned by a contextual search of the site, and also should tie in paid advertising and search engine optimisation to the keywords that Y!Q picks from their website text.

Does it work? Perhaps not that well. We tried installing the Y!Q Toolbar, and then ran a contextual search on the example on the Y!Q help page. This example talks about search engine conferences, but when we tried a contextual search, Y!Q looked for links about search engines, but totally failed to look for search engine conferences. Oops!