Five Years of Yahoo! Search

Five years ago today, Yahoo! launched its own search engine. Since then, we’ve introduced a host of new features, vastly improved the relevance of both our algorithmic and sponsored results, and learned some important lessons. Search technology is still in its infancy, and there are limitless opportunities for innovation. Since big anniversaries only come so often, we wanted to reflect on what we’ve done and examine our focus for the years ahead.

In the last five years, we’ve reached some important milestones:

• Opened our search infrastructure and index to outside developers with BOSS.
• Opened our search results page to outside innovation with SearchMonkey.
• Launched Search Assist, still the most sophisticated query assistance technology on the Web.
• Launched a suite of mobile search products including Yahoo! oneSearchTM.
• Acquired, grew, and improved Delicious, a top social bookmarking tool.
• Launched Site Explorer to help site owners to manage their presence on Yahoo! Search.
• Protected users from potential viruses, spyware, and spam with SearchScan.
• Integrated musicand video players directly on the search results page.

And while it’s fun to look back, we’re continuing to innovate for the future by:

• Continuing to open our search results page and infrastructure to improve Yahoo! Search and encourage innovation in the industry.
• Focusing on detecting and responding better to query intent.
• Breaking the ten-blue-links paradigm by developing a richer, more adaptive search results page.
• Making it easier to conduct and share online research with Search Pad.
• Delivering a new and better advertising experience that improves relevance for our users and ROI for our advertisers.

Making tens of billions of Web pages instantly searchable is a huge task, but we also had a lot of fun along the way. To celebrate our fifth anniversary, the folks at the Food Network show Dinner Impossible came to tape an episode at our campus last month. Chef Robert Irvine had one tough challenge – cook a multi-course dinner for our hungry engineers and search geeks. The show won’t air until April, so our lips are sealed on how it all turned out. However, we can tell you two things – it wasn’t easy and we had a great time, which is exactly how we’d characterize the last five years at Yahoo! Search.

We’d like to extend a huge thanks to our users. Your support and feedback keep us focused on building the best search engine on the Web.

Tuoc Luong
SVP, Search Engineering, Yahoo! Search
Larry Cornett
Vice President, Consumer Products, Yahoo! Search

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