In a technology move that underscores why Microsoft covets Yahoo, the Internet company on Feb. 26 introduced a feature that measures consumer votes and search patterns to identify the most pertinent stories and videos from news sources and blogs on the Web.
Similar to social news aggregators such as Digg, top-rated content is then given primary editorial consideration placement on Yahoo's home Web page, a move that should drive more traffic to third-party publishers.
Consumers will be able to use Buzz to spotlight big news events from publications such as The New York Times and USA Today, blog posts they come across, as well as interesting photos or videos from YouTube.
Consumers who vote and search for their favorite stories create a "Buzz Score," to determine the top rated content from the Web, Yahoo said in a statement. The combination of the voting and search results could be a slam dunk for publishers looking for Yahoo to give them a traffic boost.
Yahoo will give participating publishers an online badge to let readers vote and submit stories to Buzz in real time. Stories with the highest Buzz Scores will be highlighted through direct links to the publishers' sites and submitted to Yahoo.com's editors for possible coverage on the Yahoo homepage.
Moreover, users may submit Buzz stories to social aggregation sites such Yahoo's own delicious, Digg, Facebook, Propeller, Reddit and Stumbleupon.
Though only in beta, the service is already paying dividends for some 100 publications. Wired.com said Buzz helped it get more than 2 million page views in less than two hours from a single headline, driving a 1,400 percent increase in Yahoo referral traffic from the previous month.
Ultimately, Yahoo plans to create a content exchange that lets publishers share content and connect to more advertisers to reach more consumers. Yahoo will enable this through an API that lets publishers add customized Buzz modules or shortcuts to their sites to showcase their own most buzzed items or other popular stories on relevant topics.
Yahoo today also improved the way its search results are rendered, opening up Yahoo Search itself to let third parties build and present the next generation of search results.
In addition to the search title, abstract and URL, users will see ratings and reviews, images, deep links and other data on the Yahoo Search results page.
Buzz and the open Yahoo search build on other socially-driven efforts from Yahoo to stimulate the interest of its 500 million-plus users.
Last October, Yahoo introduced a new version of its search engine retooled to use prior searchers' queries to inform search results.
Earlier this month, the company unveiled oneConnect, a mobile communications suite that synchronizes between users' social networks and their e-mail, instant messaging and text messaging platforms.
This feature lets users access their MySpace or LinkedIn accounts from their address books, allowing users to view status updates, photo uploads and the recent activity of contacts across their networks.
Yahoo's Buzz, open search, and OneConnect services are just a few of the technologies that make Yahoo so attractive to Microsoft, which offered to buy the Sunnyvale, Calif., company Feb. 1 for $44.6 billion.