My Yahoo! Search Beta Debuts

Yahoo has thrown its hat into the personalization ring, unveiling a beta test of a personal product that echoes those of Ask Jeeves, Looksmart’s Furl.net, and Amazon.com’s A9.

The new beta launch follows closely on the general release of Yahoo’s local offering yesterday.

My Yahoo Search, which is available only to registered and logged-in Yahoo members, lets users save search results with notes. Through the use of a browser button, users can also save any page they visit on the Web to the My Yahoo Search area. Saved elements include the page title, the URL, the date the item was saved, and how it was originally found. Once saved, each item can be placed into a category to allow it to be found again more easily. Saved items can also be searched via a “Search My Web” button. Users can also send search results, or pages saved in My Yahoo Search, via email to friends and family.

Paid listings from Overture appear at the top, bottom, and right side of search results, as they do on Yahoo Search. These links, however, can’t be saved like organic search results.

Yahoo portrays the new offering as part of its vision to give users control at a time in which digital technologies are enabling greater consumer empowerment.

“It seems like some of the most profound and transformative product introductions over the last few years are technologies that empower users to consume media how and when they want to, e.g., Tivo (TV), Netflix (home video), iPod (music) and of course blogs (news and information),” wrote Kevin Akira Lee, senior product manager for Yahoo Search, on the company’s blog. “In the world of search, this means that you should be able to define your own search experience.”

The Yahoo offering has many of the same functions as other recently-introduced personalized search tools. Ask Jeeves’ My Jeeves allows users to save searches with notes, and later search through those pages. Furl.net, recently acquired by Looksmart, lets users save Web pages and later search them. Partly through use of a toolbar, Amazon.com’s A9 saves users’ search history and sites they have visited, and allows them to save notes. Though Yahoo doesn’t yet save a history of sites visited via search results, it has developed a section on My Yahoo Search called “Visited Results” that so far says “coming soon.” Search leader Google hasn’t yet unveiled a similar offering.

Yahoo’s recent embrace of RSS is also expressed in the beta offering. Through the technology, users can view items saved in their My Yahoo Search area via any feed aggregator, including the newly released tool in My Yahoo The overall My Yahoo Search has its own RSS feed, and each category has an individual feed, as well, allowing users to better control which of their items are shared with others.

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