Yahoo Search Subscriptions Provides Glimpses Into Hidden Web

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While search engines may have mapped a large portion of the content found on the hidden web (content is considered hidden because users normally have to pay to see it), bringing this information to users is usually not allowed. The bulk of the content found in the hidden web is usually reserved for paying subscribers, hence the moniker. Unless you pay the subscription fee, the content remains hidden from the average users’ eyes.

Yahoo Search Subscription Provides Glimpses Into Hidden Web
Yahoo Looks To Access Hidden Web

Editor’s Note: Yahoo has introduced a search service that will allow users to query portions of the hidden web. Publications like Consumer Reports and The WSJ are included. Do you see the hidden web as the final frontier for the search industry? Discuss at WebProWorld.

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However, there have been situations where search engines attempt to bring users portions of the pay-for-viewing content. Defunct engine Northern Light (now a knowledge management service, hat-tip to the SEW blog) attempted to meld free content with paid. Google Scholar is also seen as trying to bridge the gap between reserved content and public data.

However, there is another player in town courtesy of Yahoo Search called Yahoo Search Subscriptions, a search service providing paid content from a number of paid databases, provided you have a membership with the site whose content is served or are willing to pay-per-view (an option not offered by all contributors). YSS, which launched today, hits the ground running with the following content providers in tow:

  • Consumer Reports – All online content
  • Forrester Research – All online reports
  • FT.com – All articles from the past 60 days
  • IEEE – All technical articles since 1988 and selected content older than 1988.
  • New England Journal of Medicine – All full-text articles
  • TheStreet.com – All articles from 2005
  • Wall Street Journal – All articles from the past 30 days referencing companies that are publicly traded in the US
  • Yahoo indicates this list will grow in the coming days to include ACM, Factiva and Lexis-Nexis. Yahoo Search product management VP Eckart Walther explains, “We are in the very early stages of providing our users with access to the deep web through Yahoo! Search Subscriptions and over the coming months we plan to expand this program to further accommodate our users’ wide range of interests.”

    Users can also make Yahoo Search Subscription part of their everyday search experience by setting their search preferences to include the above resources. This will ensure the paid contributors will be integrated into the normal query results. Subscription-based content appearing in search results is identified as such in order to avoid any user confusion.

    Although, if users want to search only the subscription services, they can do so by visiting the Yahoo Search Subscription page, which returns only feature content from the providers that were indicated by the user.

    Walther continues about the significance of YSS, “For the first time, publishers can bring content to their subscribers on a broad scale through a leading search engine.”

    Currently, the YSS service is only available in the US and the UK. However, Yahoo states this is only the beginning, as if to indicate the service grow and grow to include other nations and perhaps other services. However, because of language differences and the adaptation involved, this may take some time. Yahoo is also offering a contact form for publishers who wish to contribute their content to the subscription search service.

    Users can also suggest publications they’d like to see included in Yahoo’s subscription search.

    As an aside, it would be nice to see snippets of the subscription-based content being served in the results. As it stands, users must have an account with the provider before they can view any of the subscription-based content. Providing snippets, followed by a PPV service would likely increase the revenue for many of the resources. Of course, this has nothing to do with Yahoo’s end of things.

    The fact that Yahoo now offers this capability is impressive enough. However, it would be exciting to see the above mentioned and future paid resource services feature a PPV model that would allow users access to the material without having to sign up for the complete package.

    Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

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