RealTime IT News

A More Personal Side to Google News

Google News, the popular, automated news service that finally made it out of beta, has rolled out two new features designed to help readers find the news that interests them.

Users can now sign up for a personalized news aggregator that serves up headlines designed to match their personal reading tastes. They can also click on a list of the most popular recent stories in the Google News edition they are viewing.

The new personalization feature lets users who sign up for Google's Personalized Search receive a list of recommended stories linked to the Google News homepage.

By signing up for Personalized Search, they agree to let Google track and save their news selections. The site then uses an algorithm to compare their interests to those of the entire Google News readership and thereby suggests stories for them to read.

"Users can now receive recommended news stories based on their past news searches and articles they've read," said Sonya Boralv, a Google spokesperson, in a statement.

Greg Sterling, an analyst for the Kelsey Group, a market research firm based in Princeton, N.J., said the new recommendations feature is like the passive RSS and news feeds tracking what Google has been doing with its Sidebar tool.

"This is another incentive for users to sign in to Google and create an account," he added.

Google's new most-popular stories feature displays articles most favored by visitors to the site, as opposed to the top stories being published by editors on different news sites.

That's nothing new, however. Yahoo News has had a similar feature for several years. And many news sites offer lists of the most e-mailed stories.

The added features represent Google's latest move into personalizing its news service, which aggregates stories from 4,500 English-speaking news sources around the world.

The site uses an algorithm to rank stories by their relevance and popularity within the general sections of World, Sci/Tech, Entertainment, Business, U.S., World, Sports and Health.

In March, the company unveiled a series of customization options, allowing users to rearrange the sections on the page, create keyword-driven custom sections and even mix-and-match sections from other Google News sites around the world.