AOL is upgrading its search functionality and interfaces and taking €œbaby steps€ toward personalization (i.e., saving recent searches).
An extensive discussion of the enhancements is available at Search Engine Watch. The company is bringing together many disparate elements to create a more seamless and integrated user experience around search.
Local enhancements will be rolled out later in Q1 according to AOL€™s Gerry Campbell. In the local arena, AOL is working with FAST, which has struck a number of high profile deals of late. FAST will be helping to build a local index for AOL. One question is why AOL isn't relying on search partner Google in the local area. A hypothetical answer is that AOL has significant local content assets (YP, Digital City, movies, MapQuest) and wants to integrate those into local results in very specific ways. The FAST platform may well provide that flexibility.
AOL is adding desktop search, using licensed technology from Copernic (similar to what Yahoo! did with Idealab€™s X1), which it says it will enhance. In general, AOL is moving more and more out from behind the €œwalled garden€ so that AOL.com and its member-client experience are less and less distinct.
AOL also announced a distribution deal with Ingenio. AOL will now feature pay-per-call advertisers in its search results. This adds tremendous credibility to pay-per-call and boosts Ingenio€™s position in the marketplace. Ingenio says it will be building out a distribution network and AOL is the first significant announcement.