If you're a website owner who still believes that there is more to searching the 'net than the omnipresent Google
, you might want to check out Yahoo
's latest offering.
According to TechCrunch
the company has launched a private beta for its SearchMonkey developer platform. While it's got a pretty daft name, the service promises to be quite useful for web developers and site owners alike.
The idea is to create applications that aren't a million miles away from those available on social networking sites such as Facebook which users can install to modify how results display on the Yahoo search pages. You create the application and select what data you'd like searchers to see for your results – things like ratings, telephone numbers, or even a thumbnail picture – and select what URLs it applies to.
I'm assuming at this point that Yahoo have some way of ensuring that the URLs you choose to modify actually belong to you – otherwise I can see a future where some very
interesting thumbnails appear for sites like Microsoft.com.
Although the service has clear benefits for site owners – with more information available in a prettier format it's a lot more likely that a searcher will want to visit your site – it's not entirely clear what is going to make J. Random Websurfer install any of the applications. An example used in the TechCrunch writeup – which is an excellent piece if you'd like to know the nitty-gritty of actually using SearchMonkey, even if you don't manage to get one of the limited beta places – is an application which improves results from San Fransisco local search Yelp.com
: specifically it allows at-a-glance restaurant rating right there on the Yahoo page. Useful, but does anyone actually hit the 'net for restaurant information often enough to want to install an application on all their PCs just to improve how Yahoo displays the data?
Without a hook to interest the users, I can see the SearchMonkey technology tanking fast – no-one wants to spend time developing software that will never get used. So long as Yahoo pulls that magical something out of the bag and gets end users interested in the results of the beta and installing the resultant code, then it could well be the gimmick that puts Yahoo back at the top of the search engine tree.
What's your take on the technology – a useful evolution of the search engine, or a pointless attempt to Web-2.0-ise a very basic service? Share your thoughts over in the forums.