Yahoo Search Pad Exits Beta to Boost Web Research

Yahoo Search Pad is the Web services company's latest attempt to keep users within its search engine. Users will be able to do research on Yahoo Search and save links and other content in a notepad within the search application instead of juggling multiple methods of annotation. The move is Yahoo's latest bid to better compete with Web services powers Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter.

Yahoo July 7 plans to roll out a Web-based annotation tool for its search engine that lets users grab content and sock it away in one page for quick and dirty reference.

Yahoo Search Pad, in beta since February, is designed to alleviate the pain points users have in taking content culled from Web searches and quickly retrieving it for use.

Typically, users researching health conditions, writing term papers, planning travel trips, buying real estate or looking for a job via Web search engines do a number of searches on those topics to find the information they are looking for.

When users do find something useful, they have to copy and paste URLs or other content into separate notepad applications, such as Microsoft Wordpad or Google Notebook; bookmark relevant URLs; or e-mail themselves links.

Search Pad recognizes multiple queries on a topic as research and asks users if they would like to create note-taking sessions with the tool, Tom Chi, senior director of products and experience at Yahoo Search, told eWEEK in a briefing July 6. This will virtually guarantee that the millions of Yahoo users doing research will see the tool at some point or another, generating maximum exposure for Search Pad.

Chi said the tool also automatically saves links and other content from user searches in one integrated notepad that stays with users as they search. In addition, Search Pad collects Websites users visit in the course of their research and renders them as thumbnails within saved sessions.

"People do a lot of really valuable work inside of a search engine and at the end of it, it's so difficult to save that work and come back to it that they lose 80 to 90 percent of it each time," Chi said.

For users who want to try out the tool without entering a few related search terms that might trigger a Search Pad invite, the software tool appears as a pencil icon sitting above the sponsored links on the right-hand side of the Yahoo Search window. When a user clicks on this, he or she can select "New" to create a new note for a topic to be researched.

Much like a typical notepad application, there are also options to save a new document, open an existing document, drag and drop content into it, edit a document, and print out a copy. These tools enable users to come back to the saved session as if it were any digital word processing document.

Search Pad also employs a collaborative trait, allowing researchers to share a session with colleagues or family and friends via a published link that can be propagated across, Facebook and Twitter.

Yahoo's Search Pad feature will be available to search users Tuesday at 9 p.m. PDT. The tool will work for users in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

Read more about Search Pad on TechMeme here.

Search Pad is the latest tool Yahoo has created to improve the user experience for its search engine. This is a crucial practice because Yahoo hasn't been able to gain significant search share versus market leader Google. Yahoo also faces pressure from below from Bing, Microsoft's revamped search engine.

Yahoo rolled out its SearchMonkey tool and rewrote its Yahoo Mail application to enable third-party programmers to build tools on top of them. This is part of Yahoo's grand plan to become more open and modernize its offerings to be more like modern Web services from Google, Facebook and Twitter.