Posts Tagged search monkey

SearchMonkey: First Impressions

(Image lost in the Great Update of 2009)

I went to the Yahoo! SearchMonkey (one word apparently) launch party/developer presentation thing tonight (a friend of mine works there and told me that there’d be free t-shirts, food, and beer involved… SOLD!). After I got back, I whipped up the little example above just to test the system out. All it does is scrape the Lottery Button (defunct), figure out how many tickets have been issued today, and supplement the search results with that data. Other than the fact that no one actually searches for it and that no one claims any tickets, the tech works pretty well… for me.

The biggest problem I have with the current SearchMonkey implementation is that it seems to be awesome for large, well-known publishers and utterly useless for small websites. Each SearchMonkey application has to be added manually by the end-user, which means that unless you search across a single website’s pages many many times (and see the “enhanced search results button”), you’re likely never going to feel the need to add that application. Worse, this will actually drive business away from the little guys in favor of the big guys.

Imagine Bob, who sells widgets. Bob was one of the first people to sell widgets, so he comes up first in the search results. A month or two after Bob’s shop started selling these widgets, Amazon also started to sell them. Bob’s page still comes up first in the Yahoo! search results, but now Amazon is second. Bob has almost no traffic (compared to Amazon, anyway), so no one ever bothered to add his SearchMonkey application (assuming the struggling small business Bob operates is even aware that it exists, and that he has enough time to build an application). Amazon, on the other hand, is an early adopter. Their search result, though second in the listings, shows a photo of the widget, used and new prices, a 4-star rating, and a user review–along with links to similar products. Which links is the average consumer going to click on?

Until the distribution model for SearchMonkey applications goes automatic (meaning site owners can verify that they do in fact own the site and automagically make people’s search results add their applications), I’m afraid it’s going to be bad news for the little guys.