SearchMonkey, Yahoo’s platform for allowing developers to improve its search results, is now providing richer results for all Yahoo searchers. Previously, users had to download applications from the search gallery in order to see the improvements; as of today, anyone who enters a query in Yahoo Search will automatically see enhancements to results from Yahoo Local, business social network LinkedIn and local review site Yelp.
The SearchMonkey initiative’s purpose is to use a website’s structured data — through either a semantic markup of the page or a data feed — to provide search results that are more useful than the normal few lines of text. The search results from a Yelp, LinkedIn or Yahoo Local page are all good examples of how structured data can make results better. For example, if I do a vanity search for “Anthony Ha,” among all the plain text listings I also find a summary of my LinkedIn profile, including my current position, location and photo. Or if I search for “Koh Samui and the Monkey,” a restaurant near VentureBeat’s San Francisco office, I can see a summary of the Yelp listing with the average user rating and address (see screenshot below).
To be clear, users could already get these results by downloading the relevant applications from the search gallery. But Yahoo probably wants to improve search results for everyone, not just a limited crowd of early adopters, and that’s exactly what it has done today — made the enhanced results part of its normal search engine. In his blog entry announcing the news, Search Product Manager Amit Kumar says there are plans to add other enhanced results to the search engine, as well as including a “show enhanced results” button with other listings. In the case of Yahoo Local, LinkedIn and Yelp, the enhanced results increased click-through rates by 15 percent, he says.
While these new results probably won’t make you switch over from Google right away, it’s good to see SearchMonkey moving forward. It may be Yahoo’s last, best hope for reversing its declining share of the search market.