Yahoo Launches Video Search Site

Yahoo is pushing one of the frontiers for search engines, with its new test site for searching video content on the Web.

The site, at video.search.yahoo.com, went up on Wednesday, and pits Yahoo against competitors such as Singingfish, which is owned by America Online.

The Yahoo video search service lets users narrow their query results by file formats--such as AVI, MPEG, Quicktime, Windows Media, and Real--size, and duration. Users can also choose to filter results based on Internet top level domains, so only results from .com Web sites would be listed, for example. The service also lets users narrow the search to a specific Web site. Finally, users can choose to let Yahoo exclude content unsuitable for minors.

A call to Yahoo seeking comment wasn't immediately returned, but an entry about the video search service was posted on the official blog of the Yahoo search team on Wednesday in the name of Jeremy Zawodny, a Yahoo search executive.

"The costs of producing video content have been steadily decreasing in recent years. Between the adoption of broadband Internet connections, and easier-to-use video editing software, it's no surprise that we're seeing a lot more video content make its way on to the Internet. And what's out there today is just the tip of the iceberg," the entry says.

Overcoming Challenges

In the blog entry, Zawodny talks about the challenges search engine providers face to find video content. In many cases, such content is "hidden behind complex JavaScript, Flash-based players, and other non-crawler friendly obstacles," it says.

To address these difficulties, Yahoo will in the future enable its video search crawler to support indexing of video enclosures in RSS feeds, according to Zawodny. "At the most basic level, this is just a matter of pointing to a video instead of an MP3 file," he writes. "The beauty of this is that there's existing infrastructure for handling simple enclosures. Many RSS readers already consume enclosures just fine."

Yahoo also wants to promote the use of metadata in video content, which would make the content easier to find and index by search engines, Zawodny writes.

"To get this started, we're suggesting an optional set of metadata extensions that we've been calling 'Media RSS'. They're aimed at publishers who'd like to provide a rich set of metadata about the media being published. Our video search system will also support these Media RSS extensions in addition to video enclosures," he writes.

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