They say that everything old becomes new again. This adage is proving true in the search engine world as well with Google adopting a personalization plan that makes it look a lot like Yahoo and other search portals. Designed to allow Google users access to its various search tools, the portal displays Gmail, Google News, and Google Maps (labeled Driving Directions). It also calls US Movie Listings (by zip code), stock tickers, weather information, Wired News headlines, a quote of the day (from The Quotes Page), word of the day (from Dictionary.Com), and headlines from the NYTimes, Slashdot and the BBC. There are currently no selections following subscribed Google Groups or Google News Alerts.
Personalizing your own version of the Google homepage is made easy with small edit links appearing above each enhancement. Users are able to select up to 9 references from each source with the exception of the Driving Directions feature, which requires new searches each time it is used. Users can also alter the layout of their personalized Google homepage with a simple drag and drop interface. Google, of course, tracks information on every user though it is not serving personalized advertising at this time.
While this is Google’s first obvious foray into presenting themselves as a user-driven portal, personalization features offered by Yahoo and MSN are older and therefore more developed. Google is not likely going to swipe any users from its rivals with their portal design but they are likely to retain long-term users, especially those who become addicted to one-page access to their various Google accounts.