Yahoo Adds BOSS API, Fees for Service Level

Yahoo is enhancing its service for building custom search engines with access to structured data, and is also introducing fees for using BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) in order to support its plan to offer developers service-level agreements (SLAs) and increased daily query limits.

Developers will use the BOSS API to access SearchMonkey, which can make search results more useful and attractive using structured data, Yahoo said Wednesday.

"We're exposing the structured data in SearchMonkey to all BOSS developers," said Bill Michels, senior director of Yahoo's Open Search Platform.

Once Yahoo introduces BOSS fees towards mid-2009, it will also increase the number of search results an engine can obtain via a single API call to 1,000 from 50. The fees vary depending on the type and quantity of search result involved. Yahoo will also offer SLAs to promote the creation of more sophisticated BOSS search engines.

Yahoo is also changing its terms of service to make it easier for developers to monetize search services.

BOSS and SearchMonkey are among recent initiatives Yahoo has rolled out, as it attempts to recover the ground it has lost to Google in the search engine market in recent years. By encouraging external developers to build applications and Web services using Yahoo's search infrastructure, the company hopes to make its search products more popular and more profitable.

Still, it remains to be seen how much of an effect these and other initiatives will have on search engine market share, since Google's domination is daunting. On Wednesday, Nielsen Online reported that Google handled almost 63 percent of all search queries in the U.S. in January, while Yahoo came in a distant second with slightly more than 16 percent. Google also had a significantly higher search query growth compared with January 2008: 40.8 percent to Yahoo's 8.7 percent growth.

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