Yahoo! Wants to Power Your Site Search

Josh Catone
Josh Catone

When CNN launched their new site in June of 2007 they dumped Yahoo! in favor of Google to power their site search on Yahoo! was still used on the international version of the site, however. As I’m based in the US, I don’t often check the CNN International site, but I decided to look today. I’m not sure who is powering the search on the site now, but the Yahoo! logo is gone, so it looks like they dumped Yahoo! there, too. Anecdotally, that seems to be a common trend — I see a lot more “Powered by Google” buttons next to site search boxes than “Powered by Yahoo!” badges.

Google’s Site Search is so easy to plug in, and the resulting user experience is so good, that is has become a mainstay on an ton of sites around the web. Today, Yahoo! announced a revamped site search product that aims to take a bite out of Google’s search marketshare.

Yahoo! Vertical Lens is part of the Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS) platform, and allows developers to create site search engines that go beyond Google’s plug’n’play offering. Yahoo!’s launch partner for the initiative is technology blog TechCrunch, who are now using Vertical Lens for their site search.

Among the features that the new product offers are:

  • Real-time indexing of proprietary content – When new blog posts or comments are added to the site, the search index updates almost immediately to reflect those changes. (Google is pretty good at keeping on top of site changes as well, so not much new here.)
  • Customized ranking – BOSS is all about customizing Yahoo! search results, so Vertical Lens allows sites to find tune the algorithm to fit their audience and user experience.
  • Structured search – Maybe the coolest aspect of the new Vertical Lens is that it supports faceted refinement of searches. For TechCrunch, their new search engine allows users to narrow query results by author, number of comments, blog category, or date, for example.
  • Blending Web with proprietary content in a single search display – Vertical Lens can search both site and web content and blend results together in a single display.

Yahoo! Vertical Lens is currently only available to partners, but Yahoo!’s YaJie Ying promises that the company is “working to share the technology more openly through the BOSS API.”