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RealTime IT News

Google Makeover Gets 'Personal'

Looking to stave off aggressive competition from rivals such as Yahoo and Microsoft , search technology powerhouse Google has started testing a personalized Web search feature that delivers custom results based on a user's preferences.

The new Google Personalized feature, which it unveiled from its in-house lab Monday, lets Web searchers check boxes in order to select specific interests. Once a user creates a "profile," Google promises to deliver results based on that profile.

When the search results appear, Web searchers have the option of using a sliding bar to rearrange the results to go from "no personalization" or "full personalization" or anywhere in between. The sliding bar rearranges the results instantaneously.

The company said the feature uses new algorithms that dynamically reorder results by weighting the interests entered in specific profiles. "When you move the slider, it recalculates and rearranges the results to add more or less emphasis on your profile information," Google explained.

Google uses cookies to save user-created profiles.

The company, which depends heavily on advertising revenue, does not display ads on the personalized search service. But it would not be a stretch to consider where Google could be going with this feature: By aiming for increased accuracy in specific search terms, the company can expand on its strategy of targeting ads based on search queries and keywords.

The launch of Google Personalized also comes with a makeover to the search engine's home page. The new-look Google home page has now been fitted with a link to the Froogle comparison-shopping search tool.

Froogle, which has been in beta for more than a year, is Google's answer to shopping search engines like MySimon, Yahoo Shopping and Shopping.com.

Froogle trawls the Internet for categorized results from e-commerce catalogs and lets users tweak the way the results appear by price range or grid/list view. Froogle also lets Web stores push free data feeds for free.

The appearance of Froogle on Google's heavily-trafficked home page is seen as a response to last week's move by Yahoo to acquire European comparison shopping site Kelkoo in a deal valued at $579 million.