Yahoo announced their open approach to search last February with much enthusiasm. The new open search platform will “all Web site owners — big or small — an opportunity to present more useful information on the Yahoo! Search page…[by] providing all types of additional information about their site directly to Yahoo! Search”. The new platform also allows users to have control over their search experience by allowing them to choose whether they want to see the additional information provided by the websites or not.
The new open search platform sure sounds exciting but like most things that sound new there are pros and cons that have to be considered.
- Customisable search results will allow site owners to give additional information that they deem important. Very exciting for search marketers.
- Useful apps are sure to arise due to the open platform.
- Customisable SERPs flavour allows user to determine whether they want to simply see default results or see more information shared by webmasters.
- Could probably prompt a reaction from Google and other competitors. Note though that Google already has a similar program (Google Coop Subscribed Links), which has been in existence for years. It never took off…The question is will they improve on it or will Yahoo’s efforts simply go the same path?
- Could result in more image spam. Spammers will surely be tempted (and yield to it) to display images that are irrelevant and/or unimportant just to get more people to click on their search results. However, Amit Kumar (Yahoo! Search Director of Product Management) promises that they will ensure that spam will NOT be a problem to users that use only the default flavour.
- Very likely to result in a non-uniform probably messy looking search results.
- Possibility of having a negative impact on sites that profit from ads since the new format might encourage advertisers to skimp on their ad budget because they can give more information via the usual search results.
So far I have yet to decide how I like (or dislike) the new approach that Yahoo! is taking. Truth be told I am partial to anything “open”. However, as always, no conclusions can be drawn until it is launched officially and we see how webmasters and users embrace it.
As many in the search industry has pointed out though, this new platform won’t really do anything for search in terms of the refinement of the search algorithm and results. Its main impact is in the presentation of results so that it has more to do with usability than with SEO. Depending on how well received it will be though we will still need to keep an eye on developments just to ensure we and our clients are not left behind and well informed.