The Internet portal will introduce on Tuesday advanced navigation tools to let people store, search and share their favorite Web pages--creating for users what it calls "My Web." Yahoo will begin testing the service, formally called My Yahoo Search Beta, building on its relationship with 150 million registered consumers, (20 million using My Yahoo) and advances in search technology.
The effort is only the latest in personalized Web search and a first step for Yahoo in its quest to build a "digital dashboard" for individuals on the PC. The dashboard will eventually let people search the PC for e-mail, documents or information from their My Web of search archives, said Eckart Walter, Yahoo's director of product management for search.
"The Web is going from mass media to my media, and we're applying the shift to Yahoo Search," Walter said. "This is a first step going in the direction of personal search."
Yahoo is joining rivals Google,and in the pursuit to personalize Web search and own a greater portion of individuals' Internet experience. These companies and others have long sought to create "stickiness" and encourage Web surfers to return to their sites, but personalization may be the Holy Grail in that regard.
The beta of My Yahoo Search lets people search the Web like they normally would, but if they find a site of interest, they can click a link underneath the listing to save it to an archive. Users can add a note to the page, file it in a special folder or set it to appear in RSS form on their My Yahoo page. That way,of interest with friends.
People can also maintain an archive, with unlimited storage, of their search histories. In another feature, My Yahoo Search will let people block sites from further appearing in a set of search results, by clicking "block."
Yahoo eventually plans to integrate the service with its general search product and other areas of its network, Walter said. For now, the service will be supported by advertising from Overture Services, Yahoo's subsidiary.
Still, many people may not be ready to personalize their search experience. According to Jupiter Research, many think of Web search as a simple "search and go" function, so getting them to shift that behavior may be difficult, analysts say.
"The ability to save your searches, sort and revisit them is an answer to a real need, but getting people to see that is going to be hard," said Jupiter Research analyst Gary Stein.