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Yahoo ramps up 'deep Web' search effort

Beta allows people to perform simultaneous searches for information contained within subscription-based Web sites.

Yahoo began testing a service late Wednesday that allows people to perform simultaneous searches for information contained within subscription-based Web sites.

While most search engines crawl the Web and troll freely accessible sites, they cannot get into much of the so-called deep Web, vast amounts of data stored within paid and password-protected sites. Yahoo Search Subscriptions will allow search access to seven different subscription Web sites simultaneously, including the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal Online.

The other subscription sites Yahoo users will be able to get access to are ConsumerReports.org, TheStreet.com, The New England Journal of Medicine, Forrester Research, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. LexisNexis, Factiva and the Association of Computing Machinery subscription Web sites are expected to be added in coming weeks.

Users of Yahoo's service must have subscriptions at the targeted sites to access the information, said Tim Mayer, director of product management at Yahoo Search. It will initially be available only in the United States and the United Kingdom, Yahoo said.

Yahoo users can add any or all of the subscription sites to their preferences on the search page and search for results from only the subscription sites, or have the subscription results appear along with results from the rest of the Web, he said.

"We feel this is high-value content to users, and it is content that is not being leveraged by users at this time because it is not in an integrated experience," Mayer said.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company may eventually add more subscription Web sites, particularly in the areas of research, entertainment and business, he said.

The subscription-only search results will not display ads.

"We have no plans at this time to add search-related advertising," Mayer said. "We see this really, rather than a way to make money, as a way to get people to be loyal...and to provide extra value over our competition."

This is not Yahoo's first venture into deep Web search. In March 2004, the company introduced its Content Acquisition Program, which is designed to index the billions of documents contained in public databases not commonly accessible to search engines.