Since last month’s announcement that Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be powering Yahoo search, it’s unclear how exactly Yahoo’s search technology will transform, especially since the switch won’t happen until the technical details get worked out and federal regulatory agencies approve the deal. But despite the uncertainty, Yahoo’s search team soldiers on, announcing small improvements. Case in point: Yahoo just launched new features for SearchMonkey, its program for websites to provide richer search results.
Previously, SearchMonkey allowed sites to add “structured data” pointing to videos, games, and documents that would be displayed in the search results — in one of the cooler uses, you could search for a television show that you liked, then play the video from Hulu right on the search page. Now it’s adding other categories: products, local businesses, events, discussions, and news. For example, any site listing local businesses can add reviews, phone numbers, and addresses to the search results for that business. (SearchMonkey also allows developers to build applications that bring even more enhancements to the results.)
Like SearchMonkey itself, this looks like a promising way to improve search, but will any of this matter after Yahoo switches to Bing? Well, Yahoo has been insisting that it isn’t abandoning search entirely — while Bing will power Yahoo’s back-end, Yahoo will continue improving its own front-end user experience, the company says. And Yahoo also says it will keep developing SearchMonkey as part of that user experience.