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Yahoo DIY Search Gets A Business Model

The company's Build your Own Search Service now taps into SearchMonkey structured data to help create unique Web search products.

Yahoo on Wednesday introduced three new features for Yahoo Search BOSS, the company's search services platform, and perhaps more significantly, a plan to make money with BOSS.

BOSS stands for "Build your Own Search Service." It allows Web developers to create unique Web search products using the data in Yahoo's search index.

One of the new features is access to SearchMonkey structured data through the BOSS application programming interface.

SearchMonkey allows Web publishers to share structured data from their sites with Yahoo to enhance their Yahoo Search results listings. This makes the search results more informative and visually compelling.

Developers have been able to create SearchMonkey Web applications, like info bars, that make using Yahoo Search more engaging; now they can access the structured data in Yahoo's index in their own distinct Yahoo BOSS search engines.

Yahoo is also making available longer page descriptions and new ways to programmatically obtain Web site structural information, which is useful for making sites easier to index.

In conjunction with the introduction of these new features, Yahoo said it would begin charging usage fees and offering service-level agreement for BOSS. In so doing, Yahoo could make BOSS more appealing by convincing developers that it's a sustainable, reliable service, like Amazon Web Services, rather than a Web 2.0 experiment in search of a business model.

In a blog post, Ashim Chhabra of the Yahoo Search BOSS team explained that Yahoo's rationale for actually wanting to be paid for its work.

"First and most importantly, we're hard at work on a number of technologies that will enhance both the functionality and performance of BOSS, and usage fees will help support this development," he said. "For example, once we introduce pricing, developers will be able to request 1000 results in a single API call (instead of the current 50). ... Second, we believe that introducing the proposed pricing structure will improve the ecosystem by optimizing capacity for our serious developers."

Yahoo expects to start charging for BOSS usage late in the second quarter.

What other next-generation technologies are on tap that automate and personalize information search? InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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