SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo is renovating the main entry into its website in an effort to get people to visit more frequently and stay longer.
The long-awaited makeover of Yahoo.com's home page debuted Wednesday in the U.S., although it could take a few more days before everyone starts to see it.
It's the most notable change to the website since the Internet company hired Marissa Mayer as its CEO seven months ago.
It's also the first time Yahoo has redesigned the page in four years. In that time, the company's annual revenue dropped by about 30 percent from $7.2 billion in 2008 to $5 billion last year as more online advertising flowed to rivals such as Internet search leader Google Inc. and social networking leader Facebook Inc.
Despite the company's recent financial malaise, Yahoo's home page has remained one of the Internet's top destinations. The page attracted 392 million worldwide visitors last month, a 7 percent increase from 365 million at the same time last year, according to research firm ComScore Inc. By comparison, Microsoft Corp.'s msn.com drew a crowd of 334 million, up 4 percent from last year.
But visitors haven't been spending as much time at Yahoo.com when they check in. They also haven't been making as many return visits each month.
On Yahoo's revamped home page:
• The biggest switch will be in how Yahoo determines which stories to show each visitor. Yahoo says it has developed more sophisticated formulas to determine which topics are most likely to appeal to different people so the news feed can be fine-tuned to tastes.
• The news feed also has been retooled so it is constantly refreshed with more material as a person scrolls down the page, which is ideal for viewing on smartphones and tablet computers controlled by touch.
• To minimize the chances that its story selections will irritate users, Yahoo is also adding controls that make it easy to inform the site about which topics are or aren't of interest.
• The right side of the home page will be devoted to a stack of capsules called "utilities" - weather, finance, sports, friends' birthdays, video clips and Yahoo's Flickr site for photos. Each one can be programmed to automatically show what a user wants to see, such as the weather in a specific city, information about a certain sports teams or the stocks in an individual's investment portfolio. Any utility can be scrapped.
• Yahoo is planning to display just two ads on the home page.