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Yahoo! begins Bingification in North America

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Later this week in the US and Canada, Yahoo! will begin moving its back-end search infrastructure to Microsoft's Bing platform. When using Yahoo! search, North American netizens will soon see a “Powered by Bing” logo at bottom of results pages.

Last month, Yahoo! began some limited testing with Bingified search results, and today, with a blog post, it announced that a full North American transition is imminent. Yahoo! says it will post again when the transition is complete.

This merely covers so-called "organic" search. The move to Microsoft-powered search ads comes later.

In a separate blog post, Yahoo! also disclosed the fate of various search-related Yahoo! development tools, from BOSS, a means of building your own search service, to Search Monkey, an ill-conceived tool that allows third-parties to monkey with search results.

BOSS — short for, yes, Build your Own Search Service — will survive, but it will no longer be free. "In the not too distant future," the company said, BOSS will provide web and image search results from Redmond as well as news results and other search-related services from Yahoo! "We are exploring a potential fee-based structure as well as ad-revenue models that will enable BOSS developers to monetize their offerings," the post reads. "When we roll out these changes, BOSS will no longer be a free service to developers."

Search Monkey, however, will die. On September 1, Yahoo! will close the Search Monkey development tool, gallery, and app preferences. With the tool, third-party developers can "enhance the functionality, appearance and usefulness" of Yahoo! search results. Yahoo! painted this as a way of "opening up" search, but giving sites the power to directly shape their own results was never a good idea.

Yahoo! will move to Google's more sensible approach, where sites owners can expose "rich snippets" to its search engine through standard markup languages. Yahoo! will then decide what to display. "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," the company said. "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."

The company will also shut down several YQL (Yahoo! Query Language) APIs that tie into various search services, including the Web Search, Image Search, News Search, and Site Explorer APIs. But other search-related APIs will remain, including Yahoo! Term Extraction Web Service, Related Suggestion, and Spelling Suggestion APIs. YQL is a collection of APIs that lets app developers query, filter, and join data across disparate web services offered by Yahoo! and the web at large.

Though Yahoo! is shutting down the Site Explorer YQL API, the Site Explorer service will remain in operation. In fact, webmasters are encouraged to continue using it in tandem with Bing's Webmaster Center, a similar way for webmasters to provide information about their websites for use in search. Both are still in play because Bing's infrastructure won't roll out across Yahoo! globally until 2012.

In the meantime, Yahoo! will share Site Explorer data with the Bing Webmaster Center. But when the Bing move is complete, webmasters will be encouraged to use Bing Webmaster, and Site Explorer will morph into a slightly different animal. "The Bing tool will manage site, webpage and feed submissions," the company says. "Yahoo! Site Explorer will shift to focus on new features for webmasters that provide richer analysis of the organic search traffic you get from the Yahoo! network and our partner sites."

Yahoo! also said that by the end of the year it will shutdown its MyBlogLog API, a means of tracking visitors to your blog. ®

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