Is Yahoo the Firefox of Search?

// // April 01st 2009 // SEM + Technology

Lately, you can’t go a day without Yahoo talking about their new open initiatives. Whether it’s Yahoo BOSS (Build your Own Search Service), Yahoo Pipes or Yahoo SearchMonkey, it’s all about openness and collaboration.

Yahoo SearchMonkey

Yahoo SearchMonkey is the most interesting initiative for search. During SMX West every Yahoo presenter seemed to have a SearchMonkey slide in their deck. I can understand why.

Using SearchMonkey, developers and site owners can use structured data to make Yahoo! Search results more useful and visually appealing, and drive more relevant traffic to their sites.

SearchMonkey turns dreary search results into something more interesting.

SearchMonkey Example

There are only a handful of default SearchMonkey apps currently running on Yahoo and the number of user apps is still a middling 100 or so. Yet, the idea seems right.

SearchMonkey is add-ons for search

That’s right. SearchMonkey apps are the equivalent of Firefox add-ons.

Add-ons extend Firefox, letting you personalize your browsing experience. Take a look around and make Firefox your own.

Yahoo isn’t going to win on their search algorithm. While the result sets are subjective, Google is the perceived leader and perception is reality. In addition, Google is far more focused on perfecting search and iterating the algorithm.

That’s why SearchMonkey is a smart move. Taking a page from Firefox and WordPress, Yahoo is hoping that developers will make their results more appealing and usable through easy customization.


Firehoo Logo

That’s not where the similarities stop. Yahoo has a similar position in search as Firefox does in browsers. They’re both up against large market share giants, Google and Internet Explorer respectively. Hence, they both fight against user inertia.

There are differences. Yahoo had the market share lead and let it slip from their grasp and many (myself included) would argue that Firefox is a better product (add-ons or not) then Internet Explorer.

Could Yahoo become the Firefox of search?

Maybe, but only if they focus and promote SearchMonkey apps to sites, developers and, most importantly, to users. Unfortunately Yahoo isn’t doing this and remains distracted and unfocused.

It would make search far more interesting if Yahoo got serious about SearchMonkey and fully implementing a customized search strategy to woo users back to Yahoo.

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Comments About Is Yahoo the Firefox of Search?

// 2 comments so far.

  1. Evan Goer // April 01st 2009

    Hello AJ,

    Thank you for your kind comments! To clarify, we actually have promoted a number of SearchMonkey plugins to 100% of Yahoo! search traffic. Prominent examples include:

    Local Search (Yelp, CitySearch, others)
    Video (Hulu, Y! Video, YouTube, others)

    So we are definitely actively promoting top apps, and looking forward to promoting more!

    Evan Goer
    Yahoo! SearchMonkey Team

  2. aj // April 10th 2009


    Thanks for stopping by and talking a bit more about SearchMonkey apps. The default apps you mention are great, but how many are now in the default interface – a dozen? And more importantly, what about the optional gallery?

    I want Yahoo! users to know they can use different apps (outside of the default) to make their results more interesting. I’m not sure they know that.

    Maybe it’s a monthly contest where users vote on which SearchMonkey apps graduate from the optional gallery to the default interface? I’d just like to see more marketing to publishers and users about the existence and value of SearchMonkey.

    I think Yahoo! has something here that could make search more interesting. My comments simply reflect a desire for Yahoo! to do more with the product.

    Once again, thanks for stopping by and contributing.

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