Why I’m switching to Yahoo Search

[Disclaimer: Yahoo supports RDFa, which is a specification I've worked on. So, obviously, I'm excited. But hey, that doesn't mean I'm wrong.]

Yahoo recently announced SearchMonkey, and for the first time in 10 years, I have a reason to switch search engines, from Google to Yahoo (In fact, I just did that in Firefox.) Most web-savvy engineers know that online services succeed in big ways when they become platforms: when other developers can expand on the functionality in ways not foreseen by the original developers. Yahoo is the first to figure out how to do just that with a major search engine. With SearchMonkey, any developer gains the ability to provide custom ways of extracting and presenting page data within Yahoo search results.

Let’s be specific…

Let’s say I’m a recruiter who often searches for candidates by searching the web. I log in to Yahoo and add the “Resume” application. From now on, whenever I search, each search result that is a page at LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, or Monster.com, is presented in a new layout which immediately highlights the skills and latest experience of each person right on the Yahoo research page. Super cool.

And again, anyone can write this Resume application. The code is hosted by Yahoo, so there is zero operational cost to the developer. Users can pick and choose any number of Search Applications to customize their search experience. In other words, because SearchMonkey applications are low-cost and targeted, they can fill highly specific needs, maybe the needs of a few hundred people only. Developers get the power of the Yahoo search engine, with cheap customization down to tiny niches.

And the best part is that Yahoo has separated data extraction from data presentation. Specifically, a data extractor for LinkedIn can produce RDFa, and different presentation applications can use different portions of that RDFa. If the extractor for Monster.com produces the same RDFa, then the same presentation application can be used to display both Monster.com and LinkedIn data. And if LinkedIn and Monster.com produce RDFa natively, within their web sites, then there’s no need to build data extraction… the presentation application can work natively on the raw web pages.

And that’s going to be the major incentive for web publishers to join the data web community, where human-rendered markup is augmented with machine-readable labels, using technology like RDFa. This is quite exciting.

25 thoughts on “Why I’m switching to Yahoo Search

  1. Pingback: RDFa » Blog Archive » More about Yahoo SearchMonkey

  2. What is the attraction for a developer to write one of these applications? Can I make money off it?

  3. What is the attraction for a developer to write one of these applications? Can I make money off it?

  4. “Most web-savvy engineers know that online services succeed in big ways when they become platforms: when other developers can expand on the functionality in ways not foreseen by the original developers.”

    It is true for any kind of software application (see Eclipse, for example), not just for web-services, but you’re right of course.

    It’s strange Yahoo overtook Google in this respect. Google provides lots of APIs and they missed this oppurtunity, but I don’t think they will stay out of this race in the long run. If Yahoo succeeds with this then Google can provide the same kind of service, so there will be no real reason to switch to yahoo.

    What I would like to see is a way to score search results, so that SPAM links can be buried by the users who use the search engine. I don’t think the Yahoo APIs provide a means for this, though it would be very cool.

  5. “Most web-savvy engineers know that online services succeed in big ways when they become platforms: when other developers can expand on the functionality in ways not foreseen by the original developers.”

    It is true for any kind of software application (see Eclipse, for example), not just for web-services, but you’re right of course.

    It’s strange Yahoo overtook Google in this respect. Google provides lots of APIs and they missed this oppurtunity, but I don’t think they will stay out of this race in the long run. If Yahoo succeeds with this then Google can provide the same kind of service, so there will be no real reason to switch to yahoo.

    What I would like to see is a way to score search results, so that SPAM links can be buried by the users who use the search engine. I don’t think the Yahoo APIs provide a means for this, though it would be very cool.

  6. Yahoo seems to be stuck in a branding rut. Like Apple of the past they are continually ready to go out of business. But as a developer I am feeling a soft spot for them. They are clearly comitted to building a platform on their services. YUI is great. Their custom search engines are much more fair to smaller sites. They have a strategy of offering true services to developers. I hope they pull it off because it raises the bar for everyone else. Including Google.

  7. Yahoo seems to be stuck in a branding rut. Like Apple of the past they are continually ready to go out of business. But as a developer I am feeling a soft spot for them. They are clearly comitted to building a platform on their services. YUI is great. Their custom search engines are much more fair to smaller sites. They have a strategy of offering true services to developers. I hope they pull it off because it raises the bar for everyone else. Including Google.

  8. Pingback: Yahoo! SearchMonkey: revisiting PHP, platform-style

  9. This can only be good news for yahoo in its war with google and m$. Perhaps this is a the result of being the underdog and forced to innovate for market share, monopoly breeds complacency and if yahoo innovates and google doesn’t they might make a dent in others share of the search market.

  10. This can only be good news for yahoo in its war with google and m$. Perhaps this is a the result of being the underdog and forced to innovate for market share, monopoly breeds complacency and if yahoo innovates and google doesn’t they might make a dent in others share of the search market.

  11. Pingback: Why I’m switching to Yahoo Search | Developer Home

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  14. To Bill Brown: this is very different to subscribed links. Anybody can write an application for, say, LinkedIn; actually, there may be more than one and users can choose what they prefer. The search result outlook is not controlled by the originator of the information, except through the metadata (eg, RDFa) it publishes.

  15. To Bill Brown: this is very different to subscribed links. Anybody can write an application for, say, LinkedIn; actually, there may be more than one and users can choose what they prefer. The search result outlook is not controlled by the originator of the information, except through the metadata (eg, RDFa) it publishes.

  16. Pingback: Casual.info.in.a.bottle » Blog Archive » Ricerche con l’emersione maggiore dei metadati: Searchmonkey di Yahoo at work!

  17. Pingback: links for 2008-05-22 « Internet Alchemy

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