Yahoo has started bucket-testing a new Yahoo Search feature designed to let users manage the information they gather while researching online.
Upgrading its search has been a key part of Yahoo's rebuilding strategy. In May 2008, the company released SearchMonkey, an open developer platform that lets developers create applications that enhance search listings.
For enterprise users involved in the sort of in-depth research that requires note-taking and the recording of URLs, the traditional fallback has been to open a Word document or keep track of Internet travels on a Post-It note or piece of paper.
Now, when Yahoo users utilize Search Pad, a separate browser window opens with a blank "pad" onto which users can either copy and paste or retype information. If the user copies information from a search-engine site such as Amazon.com or WebMD.com, Search Pad will auto-attribute the selection and post the URL.
"We recognize that a lot of enterprise users will get the benefit out of it," Tom Chi, senior director of product management for Yahoo, said in an interview. "With businesses, people need to do Web research fairly often."
To better organize notes, individual pieces of information can be dragged around on the pad. Yahoo members can store their searches and return to them, but the first version of Search Pad does not allow users to place their notes on their desktop.
With internal testing having been conducted over the past several months, Yahoo feels confident enough to start its first public external testing, with the service now available to a random percentage of life traffic. Search Pad will automatically detect when a user is doing broad research, based on their search patterns, and offer a tiny icon to activate the notepad.
Based on the results from the initial test, a fuller version will roll out at a to-be-determined date; once that happens, Search Pad will also be available as a tool docked in a corner of the search screen.