Search Monkey falls victim to Yahoo-Microsoft search deal

The changes come as Yahoo starts its transition to using Bing as its back-end search engine

As it starts transitioning to Microsoft's Bing search engine this week, Yahoo has decided to drop Search Monkey, a developer platform designed to let external coders create applications that enhance Yahoo search results.

Search Monkey, launched in May 2008, will be shut down on Oct. 1 when its developer tools, application gallery and related material will be taken offline, Yahoo said Tuesday.

"As a result, third party custom result apps, infobar apps, and data services will no longer appear on Yahoo's search results. For developers who wish to retain their code, please export it using your favorite copy/paste tool before then," wrote Yahoo product manager Natasha Fattedad.

Yahoo plans to start using Bing's back-end search engine for its U.S. and Canada search sites this week, under terms of a 10-year search partnership announced last year. It is asking webmasters to continue using its Site Explorer service while also becoming acquainted with the Bing Webmaster Center. Both are designed to let webmasters communicate their sites' structure to the Yahoo and Bing Web crawlers.

"To keep things simple, we will share site information you provide on Site Explorer with Microsoft during this transition period," Neal Sample, Yahoo's vice president of Social, Open, & Publishing Platforms, wrote in a separate blog post.

Through Search Monkey, results were enhanced on more than 60 percent of Yahoo result pages via images, links and additional information about listings, according to Fattedad. The platform helped users to narrow search results using filters.

Yahoo will still try to improve search results using structured data, but through a different tack, shifting focus to publishers' sites, Sample said.

"Yahoo Search is continuing to shift from a model where developers build lightweight apps to install on Yahoo to one where publishers enhance their own site markup to produce similar results. Yahoo Search results pages will continue to show enhanced result templates from websites' page markup and structured data feeds along with Microsoft's organic listings," Sample wrote.

Yahoo also plans to turn off the APIs (application programming interfaces) for MyBlogLog, a service that lets Web publishers create communities around sites by giving visitors the option of creating personal badges and identifying themselves.

"By the end of the year, these APIs will no longer be available. We encourage you to turn to our well-supported Social APIs. The Yahoo network now relies on this Social platform to power user profiles and social graph, relationships, activity streams, and more," Sample said.

Still under review are Yahoo's geographical, maps and local APIs, some of which will remain, while others will be discontinued by September, according to Sample.

Among the developer programs Yahoo plans to keep are BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service), which lets developers build a custom search engine, and YQL (Yahoo Query Language), a SQL-like language to query and call up structured data on the Internet.

Yahoo and Microsoft announced their search deal in July last year and began the implementation, estimated to take up to two years, in February after getting regulatory clearance in the U.S. and Europe.

The deal calls for Yahoo to rely on Bing for back-end search functions like crawling sites, indexing them and matching results to queries. Microsoft also got licensing rights to integrate some of Yahoo's core search technologies into Bing.

Microsoft will be in charge of self-service sales of pay-per-click text search ads. For the first five years of the deal, Microsoft will get a 12 percent commission of paid clicks on the search sites of Yahoo and of Yahoo Web publisher partners.

In turn, Yahoo will sell premium guaranteed search ads and handle individual relationships with the biggest advertisers, search marketing firms, resellers and their clients.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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