Posted February 29, 2008 10:06 am by with 21 comments

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By David Snyder

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.

Sound familiar?

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 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.

  • Marty Donaldson


    I agree with what you are saying, but where does Lycos and Excite and AskJeeves fit in to all of this? Surely they have a hefty market-share that exceeds Yahoo’s and rivals Google in terms of versatility with user-defined search.

  • Marty, I actually think is one of the more interesting players in search right now. They will be thrust into the #3 spot if the Microsoft/Yahoo deal ever goes through. In terms of Lycos and Excite they have the backing to compete, and even combined with Ask they do not rival the share of Yahoo 22.9% for Yahoo! and somewhere around 7% for the others combined.

  • meant to say Lycos and Excite DO NOt have the backing to compete

  • Richard Brayer

    A trusted contact of mine says that Google is considering the acquisition of Dogpile and Webcrawler. Can you confirm such a claim? And if said acquisition is legit, will this elevate Google into a monopoly-share?

  • It would be hard for me to see why Google would by meta search properties…except that they tend to have CTR for paid search. It also seems to be a move in the opposite direction in terms of technology. As long as Microsoft is in the mix Google will never be a “monopoly” but with 58.4% of the market they are pretty close to it.

  • i am a typo machine today…haha…meant to say:

    1) buy meta search
    2) they tend to have high CTR for paid search

    ok i should just go take a nap

  • Interesting, I don’t know if Yahoo can better a failed attempt by Google.

  • Steve, I agree with your comment. If Google failed, I seriously don’t think Yahoo will succeed.

  • Another thing to think about in this is that this announcement along with others such as Yahoo Buzz and Yahoo Apex, could all be window dressing for potential buyers. None of it is ready to roll. But the interest is in what this means in terms of the future of information retrieval to me.

    It’s like Big Brother search style

  • I like your point David. You are right about the window dressing.

  • I think more of the smaller search engines need to consolidate through leveraged buyouts to get more competitive.

  • David, good point about I think they could become a major player after the merger goes through.

  • Yeah I’m not sure if Yahoo has what it takes to launch something that Google failed to make popular. As mentioned, it’s probably something that some will appreciate and like but I doubt it has lasting power. It seems like Yahoo! has enough problems with search results – they should probably work on that before trying to interpret what users want based on publishers.

  • This was quite the interesting announcement. Good progress for Yahoo!

  • I think the idea is interesting, but it’ll probably just be more fluff.

  • @ Steve_The smaller guys wouldn’t consolidate, they’d just be bought up by either of the Big 2. I don’t think the remaining engines of the world could join forces to rival Google.

  • PS3

    The fact that it didn’t work for Google doesn’t mean that someone else can’t get it right. Google may rule the world but even omnipotent one’s make mistakes sometimes.

  • At least they are trying! I doubt it is going to work out though.

  • @ John – I don’t think there’s that much more buying to be had. I think some of the bottom dwellers will have to join forces. Theres only so much google cash to go around.

  • Maybe you guys are right about trying, but I don’t think it will amount to much.

  • I really can’t see anyone toppling Google right now, ‘google’ is the colloquial synonym for ‘web search’, they’ve got it all sown up, regardless of who joins forces or what money they have behind them.