More Yahoo Search Monkey Details: Creating A “Developer Ecosystem For Search”
Two weeks ago at SMX West,
Yahoo! announced a new
project code named "Search Monkey" that would enable content owners (and in
some cases, searchers) to add rich content to search results. Today, Yahoo has
released additional details about the program, which has not yet launched.
The announcement describes how developers can provide Yahoo with this rich
content about their sites by either including structured markup in their pages
or by submitting structured feeds. In addition, Yahoo! is announcing a
"developer ecosystem for search" so third-party developers can create "Enhanced
Results" applications for the Yahoo! Search platform. (Developers can
sign up for the
These applications can take advantage of structured data available in public
APIs and the Yahoo! index. Yahoo will provide more details on this program at a
developer launch party they’ll be holding in a few weeks.
What’s new from the
announcement in late February? The basic announcement is the same: content
owners can provide structured data to Yahoo for potential display in enhanced
listings in search results, and developers can create applications that make use
of this structured data. Until the program is launched, it will be difficult to
assess exactly what it means for content owners and search marketing. But Yahoo
has provided some details about how to expose structured data.
Amit Kumar, Product Lead for the open search platform, told me that Yahoo
wants to cultivate the developer ecosystem and encourage more use of structured
data. He said that a wealth of information can be uncovered this way, but that
adoption of these types of technologies has been low because a killer
application hasn’t existed to take advantage of them. Yahoo! thinks that search
can be that killer application.
In general, Yahoo! is hoping to spread the use of semantic web standards by
supporting microformats, including:
- hCard (and see
hCard on Search
- hCalendar (and see
Search Engine Land)
They’ll also support some of the vocabulary of Dublin Core, Creative Commons,
FOAF, GeoRSS, and MediaRSS, as well as RDFa, eRDF, and the OpenSearch
Kumar said that they are looking to the community to evolve these standards
and that they would love to extend support to the vocabulary that developers
find most valuable. He said that the developer communities who use these
standards are vocal and passionate, and Yahoo! is committed to supporting all of
them to help them evolve.
Yahoo will also support submission of structured feeds for those who prefer
not to expose their content on their pages.
Will this structured data be used in Yahoo web search beyond Search Monkey,
such as to influence crawling or ranking? Not at the moment, although Kumar
wouldn’t rule out the possibility for the future. I asked in particular about
whether the hCard
microformats would be used in local search, and he reiterated that for now, they
would only be used for the Search Monkey enhanced listings.
Why is Yahoo opening up the platform for developers to both feed them
information and create applications on top of that information? Kumar said that
search has been a black box for too long and that needs to change. He said that
search engines exist because of site owners and that search engines should
acknowledge that and shift power back to those site owners. And if supporting
open standards that expose structured data to all search engines causes Yahoo!
to lose a competitive advantage because of that, then so be it.
Site owners, of course, would be more compelled to start making use of the
semantic web if the search engines were planning to incorporate the data into
web search. But the promise of a developer ecosystem that enables applications
on top of the Yahoo! search platform is an intriguing idea. Until it launches
though, it will be hard to fully assess.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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