Google steps up personalised Web search push

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:07pm BST

An Internet surfer views the Google home page at a cafe in London, August 13, 2004. Google Inc. has expanded beyond a one-size-fits-all view of Web search to tie together its efforts to offer personalised Web searches under the iGoogle brand, officials said on Monday. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

An Internet surfer views the Google home page at a cafe in London, August 13, 2004. Google Inc. has expanded beyond a one-size-fits-all view of Web search to tie together its efforts to offer personalised Web searches under the iGoogle brand, officials said on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Hird

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (Reuters) - Google Inc. has expanded beyond a one-size-fits-all view of Web search to tie together its efforts to offer personalised Web searches under the iGoogle brand, officials said on Monday.

In recent weeks, the Web search leader has introduced a variety of new customisation features to its basic personalised home page, first introduced two years ago, which links users to thousands of regularly updated, optional features on one page.

New features include a choice of themes with custom colours that users of Google's personalised home page can select. Google also introduced the ability for users to refer back to their personal Web search history over the past several years.

"We are working to bring all this together," Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president in charge of search and user experience, told reporters during a briefing at the Googleplex, the company's Silicon Valley headquarters.

"iGoogle refers to what we formerly called the Google Personalised Home Page and the ecosystem we are building with thousands of gadgets (optional features) on your home page," Mayer said in an interview on the sidelines of the briefing.

As part of its effort to render more personally relevant Web search results, Google said on Monday it has introduced a geographic aspect to search results based on the location that individual users select as their home location on Google Maps.

Web history is an optional feature and only available to users who have signed up and given permission to Google to track their Web surfing activity.

The new personalization features will begin to appear on Google user pages starting at midnight California time on Monday.

The company is also expanding the number of countries and languages in which Google will offer personalised versions of its search services.

This week, iGoogle personalised Web search will be available in 40 countries and 26 languages, up from 22 nations and 15 languages where personalization is now offered, said Jessica Ewing, the product manager for iGoogle.

"We want to personalise the traditional notion of search," said Sep Kamvar, Google's lead engineer in charge of personalization. "I am an eclectic person. But everyone is. We can't go about designing products for the average person."

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