Search Assist refines queries by providing related topics as searchers type to assist them in finding the right search term that will deliver the most relevant information. A recent Harris Interactive poll of online users commissioned by Yahoo showed that Web search users on average needed between 3 and 4 searches to find what they needed. Search Assist is intended to cut down on that number by presenting users with more refined queries and topics early in the search process.

Most of the major search engines have offered post-search suggestions for related searches for years. Google Suggest was the first to offer this type-ahead, pre-search query refinement in its Labs beginning in December 2004. Ask.com added a pre-search query refinement feature in June with the launch of Ask3D.

ith Search Assist, Yahoo takes that idea a step further by offering related topics as well as specific suggested queries as searchers type. It's also designed to stay out of the way when users don't need it, and will only engage when users pause in the middle of typing a query.

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