Google has added search-based features to its news site, which yesterday emerged from beta testing more than three years after its introduction, according to a company spokeswoman.

Google News first went live in September 2002 and has been available in a beta version until now. The site aggregates news stories from around the web and groups them in clusters of articles that pertain to the same topic.

Yesterday, Google added two features to its news portal, according to Sonya Boralv, a spokeswoman for Google.

Now users have the option to sign up for customised news headlines through a new feature called Personalised Search. If a user signs up for Personalised Search, Google News will recommend headlines based on stories a user has read in the past, according to Boralv.

Recommended headlines will appear whenever a user signs in to his or her Google Account. These results will appear in the left column of Google News, but users also can get a full page of recommended stories by clicking on the section in which they are interested, she said.

Google has also added a feature that displays the most popular recent stories on whichever edition of Google News the user is viewing, according to Boralv. A link to a listing of the most visited stories appears beneath subject-area links, such as World, Business and Sci/Tech, on the left side of the main page.