Yahoo! unveiled a new project named “search monkey” at the SMX West being held in Santa Clara, California.
The project is a set of open source tools that allow publishers and users alike to enhance search results as they pertain to a particular web site. Basically these tools give publishers a way to refine their search results in Yahoo.
If the project does, it is because Google unveiled a similar project in May of 2006 called Google Coop Subscribed Links. Google’s program was not very successful in terms of popularity and use, so the question that begs to be asked is how Yahoo’s project will differ?
Yahoo says they differ from Subscribed Links in that the publisher does not choose the keywords that will be associated with their site, instead Yahoo will convert the publishers site into an enhanced listing when it feels the end user that has opted for the web site to be added to their Yahoo search will benefit from it.
Danny Sullivan from SEL also commented that unlike Google Coop Subscribed Links some of the Search Monkey apps will be switched on for all users and do not need to be actively selected by the user to be implemented.
Information beyond the basic concept that this project will be a way for publishers and users to affect their own search results is still vague. The announcement was just that, an announcement, and the “search monkey” tools do not currently have a date for release.
The big question is what this will do for search?
The answer is vanilla, nothing.
No matter if the tools are somehow different than Google Coop Subscribed Links, the reality is that the lack of popularity of the service in terms of the king of search does not fair well for the prince’s new toy. The application may find some initial approval among search engine enthusiasts and talking heads, but it will not likely have staying power.
There is, however, interest beneath the boredom.
For those that are monitoring the development of search, this will be noted as just another attempt by the large search engines to collect user data and bring that data into the actual search results. Web based applications, email, and analytics all add up to the search industry trying to collect as much end user data as possible in order to utilize that data to refine their index.
Notice the timing of the announcement amongst the recent buzz about user generated search properties such as Mahalo.com. Social media has, and will continue to, change the way we view information retrieval and search as a whole. Combined this with Bill Gates’ comments on Microsoft’s “bet” on natural language search, and you have a search industry that seems to be looking for the next big thing, even when the nxt big thing isn’t always new.
Time will only tell whether user data based algorithms will be one of the keys to creating a lasting throne for search to remain the king of traffic generation.
About David Snyder
David Snyder is the online marketing manager for THAT Agency.