Yahoo Introduces 'Social' Search Engine
Yahoo has enhanced its My Web personal search service to enable users to share their personal Web index of pages and links.
My Web 2.0, which is in test (or beta) mode, was launched late on Tuesday and will be available here on a first-come first-serve basis to a limited number of users.
Yahoo launched the first version of My Web in April to let users save and annotate Web pages and keep a history of their search queries as well as the search results they click on.
At the time, Yahoo said My Web was intended for users who were interested in creating a personal Web index tailored to their tastes and interests. My Web also let users share saved results via e-mail, syndication, and a public Web page of saved search results--a so-called link blog.
Search Others' Web Indices
But My Web 2.0 allows groups of users to make their personal Web indexes available to each other. Thus, a Web 2.0 user can search not only his or her own personal Web index, but also the indexes of friends, coworkers, and peers who have made their indexes available for sharing with each other. For example, a group of physicists might create a group to share their personal Web indexes, knowing that subsequent queries would yield only hand-picked results from their peers.
"My Web 2.0 was designed from the ground up as a social search engine. It can search across trusted networks of people and communities, and complements [general] Web searching," said Eckart Walther, vice president of product management for Yahoo Search.
The overall aim of personal search services such as My Web 2.0 is to deliver page results that are more relevant than the ones users obtain by running queries against search engines' entire indexes, which typically contain billions of pages. Google and Ask Jeeves both have personal search services.
My Web 2.0 users need not make their entire Web index available for sharing with the people in their group. The service lets users keep links and pages private. Later on, Yahoo will permit My Web 2.0 users to make their index available not only to those in their groups but to all My Web 2.0 users.
How It Works
Users manage their My Web 2.0 groups through a contact management feature in the Yahoo 360 blogging and social networking service from the Sunnyvale, California, company. To use this feature, Web 2.0 users don't have to populate their Yahoo 360 space with any content if they would rather not, Walther said.
Queries launched into the personal indexes of a group of My Web 2.0 users deliver results based on Yahoo's new MyRank search technology, which was designed for personal Web searching. Like its predecessor, My Web 2.0 is a free service but it requires users to register with Yahoo and create an account.
Another new feature in My Web 2.0 is a tagging capability that lets users add descriptive keywords to saved pages and links. With this feature, users won't have to organize saved pages and links in folders and subfolders, according to Yahoo.
Personalizing the search experience is part of Yahoo's overall strategic push to make its entire portal more relevant and useful to its visitors, according to Patrick Mahoney, a Yankee Group analyst. "As options increase for consumers, a key way for portals such as Yahoo to increase usage is to create the most personalized experience possible," Mahoney said.