Monday, May 19

Yahoo! SearchMonkey developer platform

One trend is for search engine to include third-party structured data to enrich their web search results.

This past week Yahoo! launched the SearchMonkey platform. Don't miss Search Engine Land's guide to creating a SearchMonkey application.

Here is an excerpt from Yahoo's recent blog post introducing the platform:

Developers can build two types of applications using SearchMonkey: Enhanced Results and Infobars. Enhanced Results replace the current standard results with a richer display. All the links in the Enhanced Results must point to the site to which the result refers. Infobars are appended below search results and can include metadata about the result, related links or content, or links for user actions (such as adding a movie to a Netflix queue).

1) Application Type -- Decide what type of app you want to build (Enhanced Result or Infobar) and enter basic info such as application name, description and icon.
2) Trigger URLs -- Decide the URL patterns that will trigger your app. For example, for the Enhanced Result above, the pattern would be "*"
3) Data Services -- Data Services are the structured data on which SearchMonkey apps are based. They can be created using data available in the Yahoo! Search index (via data feeds or page markup such as microformats or RDF) or by using APIs or page extraction.
4) Appearance -- Use PHP to configure how structured data should appear in the application.

At first, it sounds somewhat similar to Google's Subscribed Links in Google Co-Op because it let's content providers to add structured data to results. However, Yahoo's service is very different. First, it does not require you to pick queries or query patterns to trigger the data. Instead, it's based on the structured data associated with a URL. The biggest (and coolest) difference is that SearchMonkey offers developers the ability to completely control the presentation of their data via custom PHP code. Also, if you own your the trigger URLs via Yahoo! SiteExplorer, then your application will automatically appear for all users. It's a far cry from Google Co-op, which requires you to market co-op and get your users to subscribe to your links.

I'm impressed, I think there will be a lot of valuble application built on SearchMonkey. A $10,000 contest for best application won't hurt either ;-).

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