Key Terms Integral To Yahoo’s Open Search Initiative

    November 19, 2008
    Chris Crum

Yahoo!Yahoo has announced the availability of the "Key Terms" feature for BOSS. For those of you unfamiliar with BOSS, the company describes it as the following:

Yahoo! Search BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) is an initiative in Yahoo! Search to open up Yahoo!’s search infrastructure and enable third parties to build revolutionary search products leveraging their own data, content, technology, social graph, or other assets. This release includes Web, News, and Image Search as well as Spelling Suggestions.

A post on the Yahoo Cool Things Blog says, "One of the knocks on BOSS has been that, at the end of the day, it’s still just a list of search results. Given the overall lack of volume restrictions, it’s an infinitely long list, sure, with a ton of useful extraneous information like news and images, but it’s still hard to really get clever with a mere collection of links. The BOSS team is working on revising that starting today…"

"Key Terms is derived from the Yahoo! Search asset we refer to internally as ‘Prisma,’" a Yahoo representative tells WebProNews. "This is the same technology that powers Search Assist. Key Terms is an ordered terminological representation of what a document is ‘about.’  The ordering of terms is based on each term’s frequency and its positional and contextual heuristics."

How Can This Be Used?

Key Terms can be used as the basis for assistance and refinement technoloy (similar to Search Assist), but there is much more to it. It can be used as input to semantic analysis or new relevancy models, or used to analyze and cluster similar documents or as a vehicle for new visual experiences according to Yahoo.

To provide API access to Key Terms, Yahoo has introduced a universal parameter called "view."

"View is the argument that will provide a lens into deeper content," explains Yahoo. "Appending ‘&view=keyterms’ to the BOSS Web Search API call will result in Key Terms being included in the response."

They provided an example looking at a query for "obama." The illustration shows the Key Terms for the first result, which is

BOSS Key Terms

Yahoo has also added Romanian, Hebrew, and Turkish language/region support to the BOSS APIs. The BOSS group has been made available for users who wish to obtain help or give feedback on Key Terms.

This feature should be pretty big for third-party developers looking to bolster Yahoo search results. It’s really just an extension of how seriously Yahoo is taking this "opening up" philosophy we keep hearing about. I think as time progresses, we’re going to see some really interesting results from the whole "open" initiative.