I am a big Google fan but one of the things that is seriously tempting me away to Yahoo is the. Online search is starting to undergo big changes and Yahoo, for once, is leading the charge. Google on the other hand is doing things in dribs and drabs by bringing out little things a bit at a time. Don’t get me wrong, what Google is giving us is good but when you stack it up against Yahoo’s SearchMonkey, it doesn’t start to compare.
The next stage of the web is all about the semantic web, microformats, and making search results more relevant, accurate, user-friendly and visually appealing. Instead of pages and pages of boring, drab results where you have to click several times to get what you need, you’ll now get most of what you need right there on the search page.
Some of the enhanced features that we can now expect to see include thumbnail graphics on search results and meta information which is normally ignored by the search engines. Movie sites and cinema sites could have critics ratings, YouTube movie trailers, opening times and performance details, restaurants could have opening times, menu PDF download links and directions to the place (along with a map). Websites can have Stumbleupon ratings, people can have their resumes, phone numbers and fax numbers prominently displayed using services such as LinkedIn, recipes can have ratings and nutrition information displayed, airports can have upcoming flights updating on the search page. Search engines can also index and thumbnail information such as Facebook profiles, MySpace profiles and many other things that are normally overlooked by the search bots.
Right now though, everything is in beta with the SearchMonkey platform so to see things in action, interested searchers will have to opt into it. This is extremely easy. All you have to do isand click on what you want to see. Your choices can easily be removed later if you wish. At the moment, only Yahoo is involved with the project but I would really like to see Google getting involved as well with their own similar project or offering to collaborate with Yahoo.
Some parts of SearchMonkey are still a bit rough around the edges but you can still see the promise of things to come. For example, I put my name into Yahoo and up popped my LinkedIn profile, thumbnail and all :
As you can see, instead of just a boring old link, we now have a new and improved search result. We now have a thumbnail of wee old me as well as meta information from the profile including my location, my industries and my specialities.
Or take a movie example. I am eagerly looking forward to the new Batman movie this summer. But maybe I want to watch the first movie to refresh my memory? So let’s look it up on Yahoo search :
Instead of just a link, you are also given the rating, the link to the Internet Movie Database and other details such as the plot, the director’s name, the names of the main actors, the release date and MUCH more.
This only begins to scratch the surface of what is possible. So much more can be done to make search better. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the imagination of the developers and what they can come up with in terms of tools. It also depends on the will of website owners and their willingness to modify their sites to make them adaptable to these new formats.
But it’s in the best interests of everyone to follow these new ideas – because as the following Yahoo video makes clear, the better you make your site, the more visitors you will have in the long term and that is good for everyone!
I’ll be following SearchMonkey very closely and if any major new developments come up, I’ll write about it again on Make Use Of. Meanwhile, why don’t you try out SearchMonkey for yourself then come back and give your opinions in the comments.