Yahoo! My Web improves Search

If you’re not using Yahoo!’s My Web yet, allow me to recommend it. The value of My Web is what it does to your experience on Search.

At first glance, most see similarities between My Web and del.icio.us. It’s true, My Web contains a full featured social bookmarking service, complete with tags and RSS-love.

But My Web is much more than that: My Web is relevant search. Human-verified search. Better search.

Here’s a screen shot of a Yahoo! Search results page for javascript, with My Web enabled.

Y! My Web SERP

Over on Flickr, I’ve extensively annotated that screenshot. In short, it shows the following:

  • Of the about 265,000,000 results for javascript, 1,569 have the unique distinction of being personally saved and annotated by people in my community.
  • For each link, My Web shows who and how many people saved it, what they said about it, and if they’re currently online.
  • Lower on the page, the normal search results are enhanced and show which links have been saved by either me or my community, and any notes I may have made about the link.
  • For every result, there’s an quick way for me to save it to My Web. Thanks to the goodness of some AJAX DHTML, clicking Save brings up an on-page editor that lets me annotate and save the link without leaving or refreshing the page.
  • (As a bonus, Yahoo! Search also tells me if the site in question has an RSS feed, and if so gives me access to the XML feed, and a one-click “Add to My Yahoo!” link.)

In addition to an improved SERP, My Web also offers what I’ll call the “Browse” view (screenshot below, again annotated). The Browse View lets you surf the data in interesting and useful ways. There are three objects you can explore: Pages, Tags and Contacts. Pages are my favorite, exposing tons of interesting and relevant links. You can scope your exploration to My Pages, My Community’s Pages, or Everyone’s Pages. I spend most of my time on the My Community page, since these are the people I’m most interested in, who’s interests I care about, and who’s expertise I value. If Jeremy comments on MySQL, I know it’s a quality link. If Douglas Crockford saves a link on Javascript, I know it’s a must-read.

The pages — links — are arranged chronologically, with the most recently saved toward the top of the page. (You can sort by popularity, title or URL too.) The most common tags in my community are listed on the left. Clicking one limits the pages to those with that tag. Selecting multiple tags is an AND operation, so I can quickly see all My Communities links that deal with “CSS” + “Hacks”.

Y! My Web - Contact Page

I actually have this My Community page (not Jeremy’s page as in the screenshot above) set as my browser homepage. Each time I look at this page, I’m seeing the web sites my friends and colleagues have recently deemed worthy. I see high quality, fresh links, and get insight into what coworkers are thinking about at this very moment. More than once I’ve pinged somebody on IM to talk about something they just saved. It’s great for staying in-the-know.

There’s much more to My Web — invites, cached pages, a sweet API, RSS feeds for each facet, optional search history, tag clouds — but the two I described are the most important to me. I’ll let you discover the rest on your own, that’s half the fun, right?

If you want more information, there’s no place better than the official My Web blog or FAQ. Of you could read what Michael Nguyen, Yahoo!’s Jeremy Zawodny, or the blogosphere had to say.

Be on the lookout for new features all the time. In the last few weeks, the team has improved the auto-complete tagging features and the RSS feeds, and provided slick inline editing capabilities. 2.0 is lightyears better that the 1.0 product, and it’s getting even better every few days.

Have you tried it? What do you think? How do you use it? What features are most important to you?

PS: If you’re interested, it’s API is ready and waiting.