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Web surfing especially for women

The Web wants women. That's why, in an attempt to lure advertisers who want to target female surfers, two popular Web sites, Women's Wire and Yahoo, are teaming up to create a new Net navigation site especially for women.

The Web wants women.

That's why, in an attempt to lure advertisers who want to target female surfers, two popular Web sites, Women's Wire and Yahoo, are teaming up to create a new Net navigation site especially for women.

On January 24, Women's Wire, an online service presented much like many women's magazines, and Yahoo, the popular search engine, are launching Beatrice's Web Guide, a site geared to help women navigate the Web.

The site--not available until its launch date--is yet another move to attract the same kind of upscale female audience that reads glossy fashion magazines such as Elle. Women's Wire, which began as a community-based bulletin board, infuriated many original users when it underwent a radical transformation to become a commercial Web site with a major emphasis on fashion and beauty in order to attract those advertisers.

The site is broken down into 18 topics, such as arts, careers, money, shopping, and travel. Each category provides eight links. Of course, the new site also provides links to Yahoo's topics and in turn, Yahoo will link liberally to Beatrice's Guide.

The number of categories and links will change and be expanded, but the point is to keep it small enough to be navigable, said Ellen Pack, a founder of Women's Wire and vice president of product development.

Rather than throwing users hundreds or thousands of sites, "We're just giving you the good stuff," Pack said. She added that the site, hosted by a character named Beatrice--a "retro-style cyberexpert"--will also offer tech tips and "how-to" guides, such as how to invest on the Web.

Women's Wire hopes to fill a gap. While there are plenty of sites out there that help tame the Web into usable chunks through personalization, not many are organized around women.

"Women were coming to us to learn about sites," Pack said. "This was a real service to people--helping them, saving them time, and finding sites. From our perspective, which is kind of unique out there, it is something they weren't getting elsewhere."

That's why this marriage could work, said Kate Delhagen, an analyst with Forrester Research.

With Women's Wire's promise to deliver content aimed at drawing in professional, educated women, and Yahoo's ability to deliver users in large numbers by strong links to its search engine, the partnership makes a lot of sense, Delhagen said.

Women's Wire, Delhagen added, is serving a segment of the market with moneymaking promise. But, she said, "they need more traffic. There are few sites out there that can deliver volume traffic and are interested in developing cobranded sites." The deal with Yahoo "seems like a good idea. They could see an immediate traffic surge."

Matt Rightmire, the Yahoo producer working on the site, couldn't agree more.

"We think it's going to be valuable to users and it allows us to aggregate a very valuable demographic to our advertisers."

For instance, Yahoo recently signed an agreement with Maytag, which often targets women in their ads, he said.

And Netizens can expect more of these kinds of partnerships, he added.

This site "is not a small endeavor from our perspective," Rightmire said. "It's representative of our plans to target more and more focused demographics as well as more groups focused on interest groups."