Yahoo set to open its search engine to third parties

"Search Monkey" tools will let Web site owners supplement Yahoo-generated search results

Yahoo is planning to open its Yahoo Search engine to allow third parties to add a wide variety of data to search results.

Code-named "Search Monkey," the new open-source application programming interfaces (API) that Yahoo will allow Web site owners to add information such as ratings and reviews, images, deep links and other data directly to the Yahoo Search results Web page.

"Our intent is clear -- present users with richer, more useful search results so that they can complete their tasks more efficiently and get from 'to-do' to 'done,'" noted Vish Makhijani, senior vice president and general manager of Yahoo Search. "So instead of a simple title, abstract and URL, for the first time, users will see rich results that incorporate the massive amount of data buried in Web sites."

Web site owners can supply Yahoo with data, and the company's Machined Learned Ranking technology will ensure that the results are presented to users at the correct time, he added.

"We believe that combining a free, open platform with structured, semantic content from across the Web is a clear win for all parties involved -- site owners, Yahoo and, most importantly, our users," Makhijani said. "And by the way, users will be in complete control of the experience and will be able to turn off anything related to open search if they so desire."

In an example provided by Yahoo, a search result for a Japanese restaurant in California that previously would have included the URL, an abstract and an address would provide ratings, price information and links for reviews and photos with the new tools. Yahoo plans to provide additional details on how the open search tool will work over the next few months.

Not to be outdone, Google posted a reminder Monday that its similar effort, called Subscribed Links, allows users to create custom search results that users can add to their own Google search pages. Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer and head of Google's Webspam team, noted that Subscribed Links, which Google debuted in 2006, allows users to "display links to your services, answer questions, and calculate useful quantities and more."

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Heather Havenstein

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