Yahoo’s given its MyWeb bookmarking service a new look and new features, making it easier for people to find what others are saving and sharing on the service.
I’ll get to what’s new in MyWeb shortly, but let’s first zoom outward for some perspective and review the entire Yahoo bookmarking lineup. Four different services are currently running:
I’ve written before that MyWeb felt as if it were faltering, with far fewer pages bookmarked than questions answered by the new Yahoo Answers service. But I talked with Yahoo last month and again for today’s MyWeb refresh. MyWeb product lead Tom Chi said that MyWeb actually has a healthy usage rate, one that’s on par with del.icio.us.
How many members? Sorry -- Yahoo won’t release those figures. OK, then why does the MyWeb number of pages saved seem to have hardly budged since it launched last year? Currently, it shows only 1.3 million pages. Chi said far more have been saved -- 30 million in total -- but only the publicly shared number is reported. By default, saved pages on MyWeb are kept private. In contrast, saved pages at del.icio.us are made public. That can make del.icio.us seem more active when there’s actually plenty going on at MyWeb, according to Chi.
OK, onward and upward. What’s up with MyWeb today? Well...
Revisiting What’s Old
That’s the stuff Yahoo’s featuring in the latest release. It’s also helpful to revisit the system in general, since some of the preexisting features have moved around or might look different.
Anyone can now view MyWeb, even if she’s not logged in or not a Yahoo member at all. Just go to the MyWeb area. From the home page, you can see what’s flagged as Interesting Today or search for a particular topic or tag area. More a browse person? The "View More" link on the home page brings up an alphabetical list of all tags (all 254,100 of them, at the moment), and you can sort by tag cloud, date, or popularity (music is the top tag after imported stuff -- "xirincs" is the lowest I could bring up, with one tagged page).
If you’re logged in, you get more features. The My Bookmarks tab shows all the pages you’ve saved, by searching on Yahoo and using the "Save" link below each listing, by importing material via one of the many methods listed on the Tools page, or by using the "Add Page" link at the top of MyWeb pages.
Stuff saved by those who are your contacts will show up in the My Contacts section, an easy way to see what your friends like (and if you do a search, stuff saved by contacts plus those who are directly connected to them will be found).
Are you a non-social type like me and have no or few contacts (I’ve got all of five). Never fear! A change made back in April allows you to pick anyone in the network to be your contact. Just find their profile, then use the "Add Contact" button.
Certainly the changes seem an improvement over the old system. Anyone who enjoys systems like del.icio.us or Technorati’s tagged pages, where you can see the latest material flow into different categories, will find MyWeb more accessible. It’s easier to drill down in a particular area, and, once there, you can subscribe to stay updated by using the add to My Yahoo button or the XML button for importing to your favorite newsreader or aggregator.
The MyWeb URL is loaded with scary-looking parameters -- and if you remove any of them, the results change. The Yahoo Directory URL, while long, remains much more human friendly. Del.icio.us is pure simplicity. I think it would help for MyWeb to move to a similar system.
And speaking of del.icio.us, are all the changes at MyWeb a sign it’s about to be absorbed? No, Yahoo says. Yahoo’s fully aware del.icio.us has a strong, established community and swears up and down there are no plans to change things there.
The Search Marketing Angle
What about being in MyWeb? Any pluses on the search optimization front? Not in terms of influencing organic listings at present. Yahoo says these aren’t reshaped by what’s saved.
This is still possible in the future, so you may want to ensure your important pages somehow get into MyWeb on a regular basis. At the very least, the easier ability for anyone to get into MyWeb pages means even if organic results aren’t influenced, you still may get visits in another way.
Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.
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Danny Sullivan left Search Engine Watch as of Dec. 1, 2006.