Mike Arrington broke a story over at TechCrunch this morning, suggesting that Yahoo! are about to extend their Open Search Platform by embracing a number of Semantic Web specifications. A post on the Yahoo! Search blog confirms this.
Quoting from the Yahoo! blog post;
"While there has been remarkable progress made toward understanding the semantics of web content, the benefits of a data web have not reached the mainstream consumer. Without a killer semantic web app for consumers, site owners have been reluctant to support standards like RDF, or even microformats. We believe that app can be web search.
By supporting semantic web standards, Yahoo! Search and site owners can bring a far richer and more useful search experience to consumers. For example, by marking up its profile pages with microformats, LinkedIn can allow Yahoo! Search and others to understand the semantic content and the relationships of the many components of its site. With a richer understanding of LinkedIn's structured data included in our index, we will be able to present users with more compelling and useful search results for their site. The benefit to LinkedIn is, of course, increased traffic quality and quantity from sites like Yahoo! Search that utilize its structured data."
With this and FireEagle's release last week, Yahoo! are clearly recognising the value that additional structure can bring to the search experience.
The tools to create and embed that structure need to follow, of course. And issues that efforts like Dublin Core struggled with over a decade ago need to be thrashed out in some more detail, as the malicious, the malevolent, the careless and the mischievous rush to 'game' the rich structured data with which their web pages will soon be filled.
This move from Yahoo! would appear to offer a significant step forward, but I'd like to know more before being too effusive.