Yahoo! Wednesday introduced a beta version of a dramatic innovation in Web-search technology. Called Y!Q, it is contextual search technology that analyzes the contents of the Web page you are viewing and then gives you a list of search results directly related to that content. Yahoo calls it “an entirely new way to search.”

In essence, Y!Q lets you skip the step of entering a query into a search bar. Instead, it analyzes the content of the page you are reading (or content you highlight within a page) and constructs a search based on that information. Then, instead of opening a new page of search results, it displays the results in a dynamic box within the current page.

The easiest way to understand it is to try this test version at Yahoo! News. Under the headline story, click the link “search related info” and see what happens.

Y!Q can also be used through a toolbar available for Internet Explorer and through add-in extensions to Firefox. These add-ins enable you to use Y!Q from any Web page. Yahoo! is also allowing anyone with a Web site to add the tool by embedding tags into the site’s pages. An advantage of this is that, because search results appear within the site’s pages, visitors are less likely to leave the site.

Read more about Y!Q’s development at the Yahoo! Search Blog.