Monday, October 04, 2004

My Yahoo Search

John Battelle reports that Yahoo is the latest to launch personalized search with My Yahoo Search.

After playing with it a bit, it's pretty interesting, seems competitive with offerings from A9 and Ask Jeeves.

I was annoyed when it immediately asked me for a password on my first search (despite being logged in to My Yahoo). There's some simple Furl-like abilities like saving URLs combined with the nifty ability to search limited to your saved URLs. It does keep track of all your clickthroughs on search results, though you have to turn that feature on explicitly. And it supposedly retains all your previous searches and makes them accessible, like A9 and Ask, but I didn't see that when I used it unless I actually clicked through on one of the search result pages. With all the clicking, settings, and required logins, I thought it required more effort than it should to use (as does the new My Yahoo), but still found it useful.

One interesting and novel feature is the ability to block sites. For example, you can remove sites that are just search spam. Presumably, Yahoo can come along later and use the aggregate data about what people are blocking to improve search results for everyone. Clever.

So, we've got three folks -- Yahoo, Ask, and A9 -- with similar offerings. All keep track of your searches and clickthroughs with a few extras. It's a good start. But, it's not truly personalized search yet. They aren't modifying search results based on your personal history. There's still room for the bigger play.

Update: Chris Sherman has a great writeup on My Yahoo Search. We seem to have reached similar conclusions:
    In all, the new My Yahoo Search is well implemented and easy to use, but doesn't offer compelling reasons to use it unless you're looking for what amounts to an enhanced bookmark utility that's tied to Yahoo search results. It's great to see companies like Yahoo and Ask Jeeves taking baby steps toward true personalization of search results. And I fully expect to see more robust features and enhancements to personal search from both search engines, probably in the very near future.
Update: Of the articles in the mainstream press, Michael Bazeley's article in the SJ Mercury News is particularly worth reading. A brief overview of Yahoo's new product and the current state and future of personalized search.

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