Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Google launches search history

Google just launched My Search History. It keeps track of your previous searches and search result clickthroughs, making it easy to find things again that you found in the past.

A9, My Yahoo Search, My Ask Jeeves, and Findory have had this feature for a while. All but Findory require users to sign in to activate the feature. Like Findory and A9 but unlike Yahoo and Ask, Google's search history feature is integrated into the main search on the site.

Keeping search and clickthrough history is a first step toward personalized search. The next big step is to use this data to reorder search results, making the results more relevant to your particular interests and needs.

Personalized search is the future. In his article on Google's new search history feature, Chris Sherman says:
    Don't expect Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, MSN or AOL Search to stand still. Personalized search has long been touted as one of the holy grails for the industry ... Beginning today with Google's launch of My Search History, I expect to see major leaps ahead in the arena of personalized search -- and that's a good thing.
None of the search giants personalize search results yet. But, little guys like good old Findory have taken some early first steps, changing web search results in a limited way based on search and clickthrough history. As always, the best way to see the future is to look at what innovative little startups are doing.

[See also Stefanie Olsen's article at CNet]

Update: Charlene Li says personalized search results are the "Holy Grail of search" and quotes Google Director Marissa Mayer for an example of how Google might personalize search results.

Update: Danny Sullivan posts an interesting comparison chart of search history features from A9, Ask, Eurekster, Findory, Furl, Google, and Yahoo.


John said...

Google came a bit late and half-dressed to this party. I've been using A9 for almost a year, search AND bookmarks saved externally with a diary feature for commenting on sites found. Superior product that uses the Google appliance for relevancy.
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Greg Linden said...

It's true that A9 was early on search history. But I'm not sure that matters now that Yahoo, Ask, and others have similar features.

Being first only helps if you push that advantage. A9 has gone in a few other interesting directions -- local search with photos and distributed search with OpenSearch -- but they haven't delivered anything new in personalized search for a year. Now it's looking like Google and Yahoo are positioned to lead in personalized search.