Concerns Over Yahoo Search's New Microformats Support For Open Search

Mar 18, 2008 • 7:27 am | comments (1) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Yahoo Search Engine Optimization
 

As an extension to Search Monkeys, a way for Yahoo to display enriched content within the search results for publishers (here is a screen shot to shock your memory):

Yahoo Open Search Example

Yahoo last week announced support for microformats to help webmasters provide a richer search experience for Yahoo searchers when it comes to Yahoo indexing and showing results for your site. The supported formats include hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom, and XFN. The supported vocabulary includes Dublin Core, Creative Commons, FOAF, GeoRSS, MediaRSS, and also RDFa and eRDF to render those pages in HTML.

All very wonderful, right? Well, maybe not - as some SEOs and webmasters say. Their main concern is that by providing such a structured format of their content - content scrapers will need very little skill in stealing their content and repurposing it in a useful manner. SEOs and webmasters don't mind Yahoo getting this data from them, but they know that leaving this easy to use and structured format open to Yahoo will also give anyone else access to their data. Same issue with XML but this is even more fine tuned data, because webmasters can detail minute details about their content. Here are some of the comments from SEOs:

On the other hand they also make it much easier for somebody else to rip-off the essence of your site. No need to program a screen-scraper to recognize how you've organized things on your pages - you've already done the work for them!

While some don't want to hand over the data to Yahoo, so the Yahoo searcher can ge the "quick answer" and not even bother visiting their site for more information:

I'm not building a database so people can simply find everything they seek on G or Y, without having to visit my sites. Many might be doing that, but we are not.

Some are worried about spam via phone and email increasing:

I'm worried that applying such microformats will also lead to more mailings and phone calls from people wanting to sell you something. It does make it easier to harvest specific databases on the web.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Postscript: Amit, the product manager for this program sent me this note:

We believe that a richer experience in search results will benefit users, and hence increase traffic to the publishers for whom such experiences can be created. Of course, structured data is required to power these experiences.

As a publisher, if you choose to share this structured data with the world, through microformats or RDFa or eRDF, we'd be supportive of that, and consume the structured data through those means. If you choose to give your structured data only to Yahoo!, you can do that through feeds, or exposing this markup only to our crawlers. Finally, if you don't want to markup your page, or send us feeds, that's perfectly fine, too!

Hopefully that clears up any confusion. This open platform will be available to all publishers, and they can participate to the extent they'd like to!

Amit

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Comments:

Michael Martinez

03/18/2008 04:18 pm

Rigid HTML code structures only make the scrapers' job more difficult because they have to parse out MORE HTML commands. Microformats will not make data any more vulnerable to unauthorized replication than it currently is.

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