Yahoo opens up its search algorithm

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With the goal of fostering more innovation in search, Yahoo has released a new open Web services platform called BOSS (build your own search service) that allows third parties to access its search technology infrastructure.

Bill Michels, senior director of open search platform at Yahoo called the release an “unprecedented” move to open up the core pieces of Yahoo's algorithmic search infrastructure to third parties. Any company — large or small — can now layer on top of Yahoo's infrastructure to build “amazing” search experiences, he added. The company made the platform available as an application programming interface (API) in beta on July 10.

Hakia, a semantic search engine, is already using BOSS. “We do our own crawl and Yahoo's resources give us the extra speed to identify more targets to add to our QDEX [query detection and extraction system],” said Melek Pulatkonak, president & COO of Hakia.

Yahoo's previously available search API had “lots of limits and restrictions on usage,” Michels said. In contrast, BOSS “completely opens that up,” he said. According to Yahoo, the new platform allows third parties to control the presentation and ranking of search results, and offers unlimited queries per day.

Yahoo said it plans to add a monetization capability to the platform in coming months. So, over time, search marketers will see more quality leads from the Yahoo search platform, Michels said. He confirmed that revenues would be shared with the builders of the search products, but added that the specifics of the revenue model have not yet been determined.

This release is not related to Microsoft's unsolicited bid to acquire Yahoo, said Sheila Tran, a Yahoo spokesperson. “We've been working on this since last year and we're continually looking to innovate in search,” she said in an e-mail to DMNews. BOSS is also independent of Yahoo's proposed search advertising partnership with Google, she noted.

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