Yahoo has quietly introduced a new search portal called Alpha that allows users to query multiple search engines on a single page.
Developed entirely within Australia, the portal displays any search result based on the OpenSearch Standard, which converts search results into XML feeds.
The default configuration includes Yahoo Web search, Yahoo News, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers searches with the option to add additional searches from Ebay, Yahoo shopping, Google Blog Search, Feedster, Webshots and MSN Live Search.
"We've always wanted to add personalisation to search," said Brett Poole, head of search at Yahoo7.
"You can see that with what we're doing with Answers and Del.icio.us. What we wanted to do with Alpha is use the power of personalisation we've built up over time. It's the quest for the perfect search — it might not be the same for every person, in fact definitely it's not."
Basic customisation is stored in the users cookies, enabling the service to be configured without the need to log in. A Yahoo account is needed to add searches that are not provided by default. Account linked configuration also allows users to share configurations.
Yahoo is uncertain how many users will want to log in to search the Web. "That's what we're trying to find out" said Poole. Yahoo7 has introduced Alpha gradually to the market. It was first rolled out to bloggers, and then with a link at the bottom of image search results.
"It's the classic prototype — we're seeing where it goes. It's the cutting edge of search. A lot of people are still in that 1 to 10 model of search — search 1.0. We're really looking out for what's the next logical step for search" said Poole.