Yahoo Launches Personalized Web Search

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-04-26
 
 
 
Yahoo launched a beta release of its personal search service on Tuesday with a focus on letting users save and share their favorite Web pages.

Called My Web, the new service is an update to Yahoos earlier effort in personalized search.

Last year, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company began testing a service named My Yahoo Search, which tackled the ability to store and retrieve past searches and Web pages.

The latest release adds the ability to save the full text of Web pages in a personal archive, search across that archive and share the saved pages through e-mail, Yahoo Messenger and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, said Tim Mayer, director of product management for search at Yahoo Inc.

"Youre really creating your own personal search engine, where youre saying these are the pages I like and I want to save them forever," Mayer said.

Yahoo Inc. also is connecting My Web with its other sites and services. Using an updated Yahoo Toolbar, which was released in beta Tuesday, users can click a "Save to My Web" button to save a Web page and can initiate a search of saved documents. Searching across My Web also is an option from the main Yahoo Search site, Mayer said

My Web will be integrated with the Yahoo 360 blogging and social networking service once that service moves out of a private beta test in the next few weeks, Mayer said.

Yahoos My Web launch comes after Google Inc. entered the personalized search field last week with its own beta test. Ask Jeeves Inc. and startup A9.com Inc., a part of Amazon.com Inc., also provide personalized search options.

For search engines, personalized search is providing another way to attract users to their search sites and retain them in the face of heightened competition.

"Right now, search is really about convenience," Mayer said. "What were really looking for with this is giving users a reason to come back to Yahoo Search again and again because theyre keeping all this stuff that matters to them at Yahoo."

With My Web, Yahoo is providing APIs to developers for accessing data and is supporting an emerging RSS specification called attention.xml for interoperating with other online services such as RSS aggregators.

As for search history, My Web turns off the storing of search queries and results by default. When users turn that feature on, they can keep a record of their searches and select specific Web pages to save in My Web, Mayer said.

To organize saved pages, users can create folders for specific topics, add notes and create a publicly available page of favorite sites, similar to a so-called link blog.

My Web also lets users import their bookmarks from Internet Explorer or Yahoo and store copies of the Web pages.

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