Being in second place means you have to work harder (and smarter). Yahoo! has
been on a roll of late, this week introducing location-based FireEagle, but
don't think for a minute that pure-search is not top of mind with the
Sunnyvale-based company. Website Magazine's Dante Monteverde interviewed Dr.
Larry Cornett, Vice President of Consumer Products for Yahoo! Search on Yahoo!
Shortcuts, the integration of multimedia in search, SearchMonkey and Yahoo!
1.) With the release of Yahoo! Shortcuts almost a year ago how has the
reception been? Are Yahoo! searchers taking advantage of these advanced search
features and using them? Do they find these “shortcuts” useful?
Absolutely. One of the things we know from our research is that our users
struggle when they are searching on an unfamiliar topic. They often don’t even
know how to start their search. So in October 2007 we launched a significant new
feature roll-out, which includes Yahoo! Search Assist and enhanced Yahoo!
Search Assist (see below) essentially helps users overcome one of their key pain
points, which is how to craft an effective query. As they begin to type their
query or their keyword into the box it suggests other keywords that might be
related to what they’re typing. It also provides them the correct spelling of
those keywords. And after they’ve conducted their initial search, Search Assist
actually suggests related concepts based on their query to help them follow the
right path to get the job done.
We know from our research that another pain point for users is that search
engines often don’t provide the ultimate answer. They only help them down the
path of finding the answer. And what we want to do at Yahoo! is actually start
to begin to deliver what they really need within the search experience. So we’re
not just focused on the process of searching but really on the act of finding.
And to that end we have also introduced enhanced Yahoo! Shortcuts (see below)
that actually deliver the most relevant information that our users are seeking
for particular types of searches.
So for example, if you type in the name of a movie at the very top of the search
results page you get a link to a video trailer. You get local show times in your
area, a link to a deeper description of that movie as well as reviews from
critics and other Yahoo! users, right there at the top of the search results
page. We’re trying to deliver the most relevant information to our users
immediately following their search to help make their job easier.
We know that this is resonating with users and Yahoo! was voted #1 in Search
Assistance & Suggestions, according to December 2007 Keynote Systems study,
“Keynote Customer Experience Rankings: Search”.
2.) Tell us how the integration of multimedia search has gone. Google
Universal Search gets all the attention but what features does Yahoo! image,
video, and audio search have that separates it from the other Search Engines.
Yahoo! is committed to providing the best search experience to our users. We are
constantly looking at new ways of incorporating different types of content into
our search results. A great example is Yahoo! SearchMonkey which lets any
publisher enhance their search results. This technology can be implemented by
multimedia publishers who wish to have specifically stylized search results,
which showcase the Yahoo! Search engine results page.
In addition to SearchMonkey, Yahoo! Search has also introduced multimedia
integration including video, audio and photos (see below) directly into the
search results, allowing consumers to get their answer -- whether it's a Web
link, photo, video or music clip -- without leaving the page.
3.) Anything new to report on Yahoo! next generation search or social search?
Will we be seeing any changes to Yahoo! soon?
We are entering a period of massive change to enable search engines to handle
more complex content on the Web as content continues to grow, change, diversify
and fragment. At the same time, users are performing increasingly sophisticated
and open-ended tasks online, connecting broadly to content and services across
the Web. Search engines are becoming more sophisticated and the simple search
result page of ten blue text links is evolving to help address these complex
tasks. Our aim is to define the intent of the consumer when they are in search.
As part of this evolution is the introduction of Yahoo!
developers and site owners can use to make Yahoo! Search results more useful and
visually appealing, and drive more relevant traffic to their sites. For example,
instead of just seeing a Wikipedia link and a snippet, you could call back to
Wikipedia and show a photo, get more context about the article, maybe even
present some of the external links or the edit history, whatever the publisher
wants to do to enhance the result. A Yahoo! Local business listing could put
structured information about itself as part of the result, like a photo of the
store front and its main line number. Yahoo! SearchMonkey gives publishers a
unique level of access to the SERP and let’s them customize and enhance their
result however they see fit. We’ve also recently introduced Yahoo! Search BOSS,
which I go into more detail about below.
4.) Switching gears to Yahoo Site Explorer. What improvements have been made?
How can Site Explorer benefit webmasters who want to optimize their Web sites?
Yahoo Site Explorer
allows you to explore all the Web pages indexed by Yahoo! Search to view the
most popular pages from any site and continues to be a great avenue to learn
about what we are doing. We have been doing some great work learning from the
last feature we launched, which was well-appreciated; the
Dynamic URL Rewriting.
This feature provides the ability for site owners to alert Yahoo! of the dynamic
parameters in URLs that they'd like Yahoo! to ignore, which we'll then
automatically rewrite accordingly. Dynamic URL Rewriting is a tool that we have
seen in multiple examples as having really significantly increased the quality
of the experience of site owners. In fact, while a colleague was speaking on a
recent panel about this feature, someone in the audience from Disneyworld went
to Site Explorer and set it up, and he is already seeing the benefits of what he
5.) For years we have been told that Flash is not Search Engine friendly.
What is Yahoo! doing to make flash content indexable and in turn displayed on
their search engine results pages?
Adobe Flash (SWF) files is a controversial issue among Web developers and search
engines because they have been difficult to crawl. Developers can create great
visual effects with Flash, but search engine spiders can't see it and have
historically been unable to extract content, such as text and links. They only
look at the underlying HTML code of a Web page. That means important content may
be hidden from search engines because it's embedded in Flash files instead of
inside HTML code.
Recently, Adobe developed an optimized Flash player for search engines that
allows search spiders to introspect and navigate through a live SWF application
as if they were virtual users. That means any text or links in a Flash
application can now be indexed, since it actually goes through the runtime of
each Flash application and translates it into something the search engines can
understand. We are committed to supporting webmaster needs with plans to support
searchable SWF and are working with Adobe to determine the best possible
6.) Finally, can you tell us more about Yahoo! Search BOSS? What is this
service, who does it cater toward, and how is it useful?
The Yahoo Search team recently announced
the launch of Yahoo!
Search BOSS – an open Web services platform that offers developers and
companies the chance to create and launch Web-scale search products by utilizing
the same infrastructure, technology and index that powers Yahoo! Search. BOSS
fosters search innovation by enabling developers and companies to disrupt the
search landscape by building their own world-class search experiences. BOSS
currently lets developers re-rank and blend results, gives developers
flexibility on the presentation of search results – it offers the ability to
server up Web, news and image search and entitles search engines to unlimited
queries. BOSS also offers a mash-up framework, which eliminates a lot of the
heavy coding that goes into building the front end of a search engine. In
addition to a self-serve API, we're also partnering with a handful of companies
with large user bases or unique assets to collaboratively develop search
experiences using Yahoo!'s search technology, called
With BOSS, you can build your own search engine – one that recognizes the
difference between blogs, user reviews, news and shopping sites, and clusters
results accordingly. Developers and companies can use BOSS to create a more
social search engine, in which rankings are determined by a users’ social graph
and combined with newsfeed results, or conduct a visual search to present
thumbnails of the Web pages instead of links, making it more user-friendly for
non-savvy searchers. Essentially, BOSS will enable a range of fundamentally
different search experiences for companies big and small.