Today, Yahoo! has announced several new features to their Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS) platform as well as usage fees. When BOSS launched in July 2008, the stated goal was to spur innovation and disrupt the search market. Will the additional of usage fees hinder that goal and become a barrier to entry for the cost-limited startups Yahoo! was originally trying to help? Yahoo says no, that they “believe that introducing the proposed pricing structure will improve the ecosystem by optimizing capacity for our serious developers.”
The BOSS charges kick in only once queries exceed 10,000 a day. After that, there’s a tiered model based on what is requested through the API. The pricing will go into effect next quarter.
In exchange for the introduction of fees, BOSS has added several new features. Key among them is the ability to monetize results. Yahoo! has adjusted the terms of service to allow developers to use third-party monetization platforms in conjunction with BOSS results. This is a shift from Yahoo!’s initial plan, which was to provide Yahoo-powered ads with a revenue sharing model. When BOSS first launched, Yahoo told me that they were planning to require Yahoo ads at some point and that “over the next several months, a BOSS monetization capability, using Yahoo! search advertising and potentially other models, will be made available for partners and developers to create a search revenue stream for their business.”
In addition, Yahoo! is expanding the maximum number of results returned from 50 to 1,000 and will be introducing an SLA to ensure reliability.
BOSS will be offering access to SearchMonkey data as well, starting with structured markup that the Yahoo! web crawler has extracted. This is yet another move to encourage the use of semantic standards on the web. (In a session at SMX West yesterday, Arnab Bhattacharjee, Senior Director, Yahoo! Search Technology and Engineering at Yahoo! reiterated Yahoo!’s encouragement of the use of structured markup.)
They’re also making longer abstracts of documents available (up to 300 words from the previous 170).
New functionality for webmasters: link data
The most interesting new feature for webmasters may be the ability to query Site Explorer link data through the BOSS API. Presumably, however, the number of results returned will be limited to 1,000, which may not completely satisy those looking for backlink data.
While the BOSS improvements are encouraging, it remains to be seen if the new pricing structure slows down Yahoo!’s efforts to disrupt the market by jump starting those with little cash.