Flickr Photos Integrated into Yahoo Image Search

Flickr Photos Integrated into Yahoo Image Search

[I’m CEO of Zooomr]

Search Engine Journal is reporting this morning that Yahoo has added over 300 million indexed Flickr images into it’s image index. And so begins the single most important reason that Yahoo bought Flickr back in March of 2005 — to use social search and rank to increase the relvancy of image search on Yahoo. And with that, Yahoo just took a huge step in overtaking Google in relevancy for the first time even if in one small area.

I have been heavily blogging about this day for the past 2.5 years. Some of my past posts on this matter can be read here and here and here and here and well you get the idea.

Today’s integration of Flickr images into Yahoo image search is only the first step though. It’s being done cautiously. For instance. Do an image search on Yahoo Image Search for “San Francisco” this morning and you will find that no Flickr images appear on the first page. But page forward and you will start seeing the images. Eventually you can expect much more forceful integration of Flickr’s superior image search algorithm into all Yahoo Image Search main results.

Getting at what is inside of a photo is tremendously tricky. Google at present uses an image labeler game to try and get at this but this is not near as fun as Flickr and social photosharing — or something like hot or not. But the fact of the matter is that social communities can be quite adept at determining what photos are better than others.

Where this sort of search technology will work best of course is at the long tail.

Take some of these examples for instance and you will see that with the Flickr integration that Yahoo mostly now produces superior results in image search than their competitors with this recent Flickr integration. It works especially well with long tail people search. All image searches were done with quotes.

Thomas Hawk: Yahoo Images, Google Image Search, Microsoft Images, Ask Images

Robert Scoble: Yahoo Images, Google Images, Microsoft Images, Ask Images

Mount Tam: Yahoo Images, Google Images, Microsoft Images, Ask Images

Tag Cathedral: Yahoo Images, Google Images, Microsoft Images, Ask Images

Sacramento Train Museum: Yahoo Images, Google Images, Microsoft Images, Ask Images

This is also technology that we’ve recently incorporated into Zooomr. Recently at Zooomr we developed our own algorithm using 28 different characteristics to determine rank and relevancy of photos. And even though today the Zooomr photo library is much smaller than Flickr, you can already see the success of letting social communities determine rank. Take this search on Zooomr for instance for sunflower, or dog, or cat, or beach. Now these are common terms of course. But as Zooomr’s photo library keeps getting bigger and bigger, the image search associated with Zooomr will get better and better and reach further and further into the long tail. This has enormous implications for image search, but also for search for things like stock photography.

There is so much important work to do in the months ahead with image search, but the best image search going forward will be done around social networks. Yahoo was very smart to purchase Flickr back in 2005. It was the search team that bought Flickr not the Yahoo photos team that bought Flickr. Watch as this new integration evolves and gets better and better in the months ahead and watch as Yahoo leapfrogs their major competitors in image search.

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  1. Vinny says:

    I don’t know… There seems to be something that doesn’t feel right about it. It’s like they’re leveraging a service that people share their stuff on to pad their search results…

    Not sure how I feel about this…

    On one hand it’s cool that the photographer gets exposure. On the other hand, how much does that exposure actually end up benefiting the guy who took the picture?

    Wonder if they’ll let you opt out?

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    Vinny, you can opt out. As a photographer personally I think this exposure is a good thing. Some may not of course.

  3. Greg Furry says:

    Thomas, where do you opt out?

    I don’t have a problem with it unless someone types in my company name(excelisys)and sees a picture of me in my pajamas!

    Seriously though it makes me want to reconsider my tags. I type my kids names and find them. That always seems weird to me even though I leave them as public.

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    Greg you can opt out in your Flickr account here:

  5. gfurry says:

    Thanks Thomas I don’t know how I missed it. It had a yellow box with new right next to it.

  6. Greg Furry says:

    OK here are the choices for privacy.

    Hide your photos from site-wide searches on

    Hide your photos from searches on 3rd party sites that use the API?

    I checked the 2nd one. It doesn’t seem to do anything after 12 hours. So I am assuming that when they say 3rd party they mean other than Yahoo, not flickr.

    I want my photos to show up in the flickr public search just not the yahoo images search. Am I reading this right?

  7. Carmen says:

    They seem to have some problems with pictures flagged friends/family only showing up as thumbnails via this image search for everybody currently… see the flickr help forum for details:

  8. Tracey says:

    Yahoo! is positioning itself to be a key player in mobile search without a doubt… the future will tell.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Now Flickr photos can be integrated into Facebook! Of all the Facebook apps I tried, this one is by far my fav. zuPort: Flickr displays the most recently uploaded Flickr photos within seconds of them being uploaded to Flickr, you can view your public Flickr photos in Facebook or Flickr, click photos to enlarge, and so much more. Instead of reading my ramble, check it out yourself

  10. The subject of a very wonderful and distinct
    I thank you for continuing excellence
    Thank you


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  11. شات says:

    The subject of a very wonderful and distinct
    I thank you for continuing excellence
    Thank you

  12. دردشة says:

    The subject of a very wonderful and distinct
    I thank you for continuing excellence
    Thank you

  13. The subject of a very wonderful and distinct
    I thank you for continuing excellence
    Thank you

  14. The subject of a very wonderful and distinct
    I thank you for continuing excellence
    Thank you

  15. bizemail says:

    Thanks Thomas I don’t know how I missed it