Yahoo Alpha Search Launches Confusing Beta

alphalogo.pngYahoo Australia launched a new personalized search engine called Alpha today. Yahoo has another personalized search product called Yahoo Search Builder meant for customizing a Yahoo search engine for your site. A lot of people are calling Alpha a competitor to Google Coop, but it’s not. Yahoo Alpha is a meta search engine with a Netvibes look and feel, letting you type a search in one box and see results amongst several search engines. Google Coop and Rollyo interleave the results from several sources ranked by relevance.

The search results page is a two column layout of search result widgets, with the left column holding the main search results and right column a list of smaller result feeds. The default setup is Yahoo’s website search on the left and smaller Flickr, YouTube, Yahoo news, Wikipedia, and Yahoo Search Marketing widgets on the right. When you enter a search into the main box, results for each of the sources show up in the widgets.

You can customize the results page by reordering widgets on the page and adding new search feed widgets. The process for adding a feed is confusing and required entering an abstruse Opensearch url (e.g {searchTerms}&ie=utf-8&num=10&output=rss) and captcha answer. Opensearch is an Amazon A9 technology that lets third parties access your search results via RSS. Each of the widgets can be public or private, although we don’t see a marketplace for these widgets yet.

It’s surprising to see Yahoo come out with a product like this – Rollyo does a much better job with Yahoo’s own API.