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Yahoo MyWeb Gets New Look, Easier Browsing & Viewing Features

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Yahoo's given its MyWeb bookmarking service a new look and new features, making it easier than before for people to find what others are saving and sharing on the service.

I'll get to what's new in MyWeb shortly, but let's first zoom outward for some perspective and review the entire Yahoo bookmarking lineup, four different services that are currently running:

  1. Yahoo Bookmarks: Years old, Yahoo Bookmarks is the original way Yahoo encouraged people to bookmark pages and one the company says still has a healthy audience, even if they aren't Web 2.0 hipsters.
  2. The Former Yahoo My Web: Launched in April 2005, this allowed people to save pages and make notes. A small group of people still make use of the service because they haven't upgraded to the latest version.
  3. Yahoo MyWeb: Launched in June 2005 as Yahoo My Web 2.0 (yes, two words), this upgrade to the former Yahoo My Web (yes, again, two words) offered the ability to tag and share bookmarks with others.
  4. del.icio.us: Acquired in December 2005, del.icio.us achieved popularity by making it easy for people to categorize and share bookmarks through tagging.

I've written before that MyWeb felt as if it was faltering, with far fewer pages bookmarked than questions answered by the new Yahoo Answers service (I'm taking a long look at the growing popularity of that service on Wednesday). But talking with Yahoo last month and again for today's MyWeb refresh, MyWeb product lead Tom Chi said that MyWeb actually has a healthy usage rate, one that's on part with del.icio.us.

How many members? Sorry -- Yahoo won't release those figures. OK, then why does the MyWeb number of pages saved seem to have hardly budged since it launched last year? Currently, it shows only 1.3 million pages. Chi said far more have been saved -- 30 million in total -- but only the number publicly shared is reported. By default, saved pages on MyWeb are kept private. In contrast, saved pages at del.icio.us are made public. That can make del.icio.us seem more active when there's actually plenty going on at MyWeb, Chi said.

What's New?

OK, onward and upward. What's up with MyWeb today? Well....

  • It's Called MyWeb, One Word, No Numbers: Previously, it's been called My Web or My Web 2.0. Be aware you'll likely still see these other references even on the Yahoo site. This is being fixed over time. But since Web 2.0 was declared an O'Reilly trademark, Yahoo decided to play it safe and drop the entire "Web 2.0" portion and fallback to saying "MyWeb." OK, joke, joke, I couldn't resist -- the trademark thing has nothing to do with it. But it is called MyWeb officially now.
  • Top Tags: You'll find these at the top of the MyWeb home page, and they reflect those being applied most often over a certain time period (currently, it's daily, but this could change in the future, Yahoo says).
  • Interesting Today: A new tab on the home page that's already selected by default, this shows things Yahoo deems to be currently hot within the system. What's hot? Well, stuff getting a lot of bookmarks, sure. But there's also en element of burstiness being analyzed, along with other factors.
  • Tag Finder: Want to find everything tagged on gps or hdtv? Use the tag finder box under the "Find Most Popular Tags" heading on the left-hand side of the home page. It's also on every inside page in the site under the Tag Finder heading. Enter a term, then you'll be taken to the matching tag. That will show you all the bookmarked pages under that topic, sorted from newest to oldest.
  • Active Taggers: Want to keep up with who tags the most in particular categories and then perhaps make them one of your contacts, which influences the pages that appear in your My Contacts area? Each tag page has a list of most active taggers in that area on the left-hand side of the page.
  • Export Bookmarks: Worried about building up bookmarks that might get lost if you leave Yahoo or Yahoo leaves you? The tools page features a new export tool.

Revisiting What's Old

That's the stuff Yahoo's featuring in the latest release. But it's also helpful to revisit the system in general, since some of the preexisting features have moved around or might look different since our earlier write-ups.

Anyone can now view MyWeb, even if they are not logged in or not a Yahoo member at all. Just go to the MyWeb area, still confusingly at http://myweb2.search.yahoo.com/ rather than something like http://myweb.yahoo.com/, which instead brings up the pure Yahoo Search interface. Well, hopefully that will change over time.

From the home page, you can see what's flagged as Interesting Today, as covered above or search for particular topic/tag area. More a browse person? The View More link on the home page brings up an alphabetical list of all tags (all 254,200 of them, at the moment), and you can sort into a tag cloud, by date (wow, the most recent used tag was in February!) or popularity (music is the top tag after imported stuff -- thoughtiness is the lowest I could bring up with 1 tagged page)

If you are logged in, you get more features. The My Bookmarks tab will show all the pages you've saved, either by doing searches on Yahoo and using the Save link below each listing, by importing material via one of the many methods listed on the tools page or by using the Add Page link at the top of MyWeb pages.

You also have a My Contacts tab. Stuff saved by those who are your contacts will show up in this section, an easy way to see what your friends like (and if you do a search, stuff saved by contacts plus those who are directly connected to them will be found).

Are you a non-social type like me and have no or few contacts (I've got all of five). Never fear! A change made back in April allows you to pick anyone in the network to be your contact. Just find their profile, then use the Add Contact button.

Compelling?

Certainly the changes seem an improvement over the old system. Anyone who enjoys systems like del.icio.us or Technorati's tagged pages, where you can see the latest material flow into different categories, will find MyWeb more accessible. It's easier to drill down in a particular area, and once there, you can subscribe to stay updated by using the add to My Yahoo button or the XML button for importing to your favorite newsreader or aggregator.

I do wish the URLs for each tag were more logical or memorable. Compare:

MyWeb
http://myweb2.search.yahoo.com/myweb?ei=UTF-8&dg=6&tag=gps

Yahoo Directory
http://dir.yahoo.com/Science/Geography/Navigation/Global_Positioning_System__GPS_/

del.icio.us
http://del.icio.us/tag/gps

The MyWeb URL is loaded with scary-looking parameters -- and if you remove any of them, the results change. The Yahoo Directory URL, while long, remains much more human friendly. Del.icio.us is pure simplicity. I think it would help for MyWeb to move to a similar system.

And speaking of del.icio.us, are all the changes at MyWeb a sign that it's about to be absorbed? No, Yahoo says. No, no, no! Yahoo's fully aware that del.icio.us has a strong, established community and swears up and down there are no plans to change things there.

"MyWeb and del.icio.us have thriving communities that will stand on their own," Chi said.

The Search Marketing Angle

What about being in MyWeb? Any pluses on the SEO front? At the moment, no -- not in terms of influencing the organic listings. Yahoo says these aren't being reshaped by what's saved.

This is still possible in the future and so one reason you might want to consider ensuring your important pages are getting into MyWeb somehow on a regular basis. At the very least, the easier ability for anyone to get into MyWeb pages means that even if organic results aren't influenced, you still might get visits in another way.

A Search Marketer's Look At Yahoo My Web 2.0, which I wrote last year for Search Engine Watch members, is still largely applicable under the new system. In fact, the most important point remains valid. MyWeb users are likely to get detoured to you if you show up in the MyWeb section being inserted into search results pages.

See also Add To Google & Save To Yahoo My Web Buttons Out for advice on adding a Save To Yahoo MyWeb button to your pages. There's nothing better than getting others who like your material to help promote you. The buttons make it easier for them to do so.

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