Will Yahoo!’s new Buzz create more than a whisper?

26 Feb 2008

It can’t be easy launching two new products when Microsoft is hot on your heels but Yahoo! is under even more pressure as it showcases its user-voted news site Buzz alongside its new search engine model, and all with the stigma of playing catch-up attached.

The all-new user-voted Buzz looks and acts very much like the well-established and popular news site Digg.com, even down to the ‘Buzz up’ button users can click on if they like a story. This button acts in much the same way as the ‘Digg’ button in promoting news links further up the site’s homepage.

Buzz, which has only been released into public beta testing, does not allow users to submit their own links but rather has a selection of stories provided by press bodies including USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.

It is difficult to predict if Yahoo!’s Buzz will be a serious competitor to Digg because while Digg has over 25 million visitors per month to its site, Yahoo!’s homepage still remains one of the top destinations on the web.

Sites like Wired.com have already beta tested the submit and vote mechanism that can deliver their stories to Yahoo!’s front page, and its editor-in-chief, Evan Hansen, likens its ability to drive back traffic to the sites as connecting to a fire hose.

Yahoo!’s search engine is also about to change as it opens up to third-party developers which the company hopes will give users a ‘richer’ search experience with better visuals and more interactive elements.

“Site owners will be able to provide all types of additional information about their site directly to Yahoo! Search,” said Vish Makhijani, senior vice-president of Yahoo! Search.

“So instead of a simple title, abstract and URL, for the first time users will see rich results that incorporate the massive amount of information buried in websites – ratings and reviews, images, deep links and all kinds of other useful data – directly on the Yahoo! Search results page.”

By Marie Boran