Yahoo! offers several "search shortcuts" that are designed to help you find answers to common questions quickly, but few searchers take the time to learn how to use these shortcuts. Chances are, if you take a few moments to browse through the shortcut listings, you'll find at least a couple that are worth devoting to memory. (A full list of all available shortcuts is available on the Yahoo! Help page.)

Long-time Yahoo! users are familiar with common shortcut options like the dictionary definitions, stock quotes and the calculator. These tools allow you to quickly access resources like The American Heritage Dictionary and up-to-date stock quotes for your favorite investments. Yahoo! currently offers a total of twenty-seven shortcut options, five of which have made my list of ones worth memorizing.

Number One: Gas Prices

I'm the economical type. None of my family's vehicles (even the old pick-up truck) gets less than thirty miles to the gallon, and I'm willing to drive a little out of my way to find the best gas price. With prices continuing to rise, Yahoo! has taken advantage of a few sites that offer up-to-date pricing information based on zip codes and setup a nifty little shortcut for all you frugal drivers. Simply typing "gas" followed by your zip code will produce the option to check current gas prices on either or Sure, you could go directly to the sites and start your search there, but if you're already on Yahoo!, why not get a direct link?

Number Two: Movie Showtimes

Remember the days when you had to sort through a newspaper or sit on the phone listening to a taped recording cycle through movie listings? (And with 20 and 30 screens per theatre, that can take awhile!) Yahoo! understands and they've added a shortcut that gives you quick and easy access to movie times in your area. Simply type "showtimes" followed by your city name or zip code and Yahoo! will present a link to the nearest theatre's showtimes.

Number Three: Weather Reports

Sure, you can get your weather report from almost any search engine or portal site out there, but again, if you're already on Yahoo!, taking the time to use this shortcut can make getting the latest forecast fast and easy. Simply type "weather" plus your city or zip code and you'll get an instant display of the current weather along with links for more in-depth information.

Number Four: Maps

One of the first shortcuts I memorized on Yahoo! (and also one of my favorite Google shortcuts) is the one for getting maps. Simply typing a full address, or the keyword "map" followed by a location is enough to prompt Yahoo! to display a detailed map right on the results page. Quick links then allow you to get directions to or from the location, view the map in more detail, or even find out what's nearby.

Number Five: Local Search

With the move toward local search emphasis, Yahoo! has recently added a new shortcut called "Local Search" to their list of options. To use it, simply type in the business name, or even a general business description along with your location. A quick search for "chipotle columbus" turns up three listings for my favorite fast food option, complete with address, phone number and links for maps and directions. This option still needs a little work, (if I use my zip code instead of city name, there are no results) but it's a solid move on Yahoo!'s part toward another great shortcut.
August 30, 2004

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Making Yahoo! Search Work for You