Yahoo BOSS Moves From Yahoo’s Index to Microsoft’s, Adds Pay Structure

Vanessa Fox on
  • Categories: Channel: Consumer, Yahoo: APIs, Yahoo: Search
  • Yahoo has just announced that they’re about to launch a new version of BOSS with a fee structure based on query volume. (The initial version launched in 2008 was free, and a fee structure for high volume use was first talked about in 2009). Yahoo BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) provides an API that enables developers to use Yahoo search results in their applications.

    What else is new? The web search results will be coming from Microsoft’s Bing index rather than Yahoo’s. A earlier post noted, “BOSS will continue to be a RESTful API for web, image, and news search. Core web and image results will eventually be powered by the Microsoft search platform.” I clarified with Yahoo today that in the new version about to be released, web and image results will be coming from Microsoft and news results will be coming from Yahoo.

    (Although Yahoo’s U.S. web search results now come from Microsoft, Yahoo will continue to crawl the web until at least 2012, when the international transition is scheduled to be complete.)

    And this version includes something else not in the previous version: Yahoo branding requirements. Originally, Yahoo didn’t require BOSS implementations to include Yahoo branding, as one of their key stated objectives was to disrupt the search market and power startups. The idea was that startups could use BOSS to power their innovative search products and create their own brands, rather than build on Yahoo’s.

    However their latest post says “We want you to be able to leverage the Yahoo! brand to help signify the valuable platform on which your applications are built.” This could be interpreted as a step backward as white labeling was a key value proposition they gave as an improvement over the previous Yahoo search API. As their FAQ currently states, “You can take BOSS results, blend in your own secret sauce, and build a search engine of your own design, all without required brand attribution.”

    How well has BOSS done with their mission of disrupting and innovating the search space? Yahoo would only tell me that “there are hundreds of developers using BOSS today”. The Yahoo BOSS web page lists several examples, including hakia (which has their own index and ranking system, so uses BOSS to augment their results) and OneRiot, which has shut down its search engine and is now using the Topsy API. (Duck Duck Go uses Yahoo BOSS today, along with other data sources.)

    Yahoo BOSS messaging as of late has focused on making “business and economic sense“. But it’s unclear if the pay structure will be well-received by developers when combined with the branding requirements.

    It’s also unclear what the advantage of this new version of BOSS will have over using the Bing API directly. The Bing API also offers unlimited use and flexibility of ordering and blending results. The Bing API terms of service do require that ” if you interleave data from any source other than the API with data from the API, clearly differentiate the respective sources.” With the new branding requirements from BOSS, the display requirements may be similar.

    About The Author

    Vanessa Fox
    Vanessa Fox is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.