Ask Jeeves is the latest search engine to try its hand at personalization, adding a feature that lets users create an index of their favorite Internet sites.
The Emeryville, CA, search engine plans to make available today its “My Jeeves” feature that stores and organizes favorite search results chosen by users. Jim Lanzone, vice president of product management at Ask Jeeves, said My Jeeves would become more powerful as the personalized information grows over time.
“Out of the 2.5 billion sites in English, you've now distilled that down to the 20,000 sites that are important to you,” he said. “You're basically creating your own search index.”
To usher in the change, Ask Jeeves altered the appearance of its butler mascot, Jeeves. The new look, first rolled out in Japan last month, spruces up Jeeves' attire, slims him down and gives him a healthier complexion. It is the first makeover for Jeeves in five years.
My Jeeves works by putting a save option next to search results. Those Web addresses and descriptions are transferred into the My Jeeves section, where users can sort them by category in much the way e-mail is handled in Microsoft Outlook. My Jeeves also lets users add notes to the bookmarks. Users can search My Jeeves to find sites previously bookmarked and e-mail them to others with a single click.
My Jeeves will not require users to register, like Yahoo's My Yahoo. However, registration is an option that will let users access their information from any computer.
Lanzone said Ask Jeeves would build on this by adding publishing and syndication capabilities as well as tying it together with its newly acquired desktop search capability, Tuckaroo, to build what he calls a “personal Web.”
“People don't customize a lot,” he said, noting that advanced search features draw a tiny percentage of users. “What we've tried to do is make everything intuitive.”
Ask Jeeves is taking a much different approach to search personalization than Google. Google Personalized, still in early testing, has users pre-check boxes of their interests, then lets them personalize their search results using a slider.
Amazon.com has made perhaps the biggest strides in search personalization through its A9 unit. It stores users' search history, lets them bookmark searches and tracks and records which results were clicked. A9's Discover feature recommends Web sites to users based on their surfing history.
Ask Jeeves also said it implemented local search features through a deal announced with CitySearch in August. Ask Jeeves users are returned CitySearch business listings and reviews for local searches.