Internet, June 6, 2013. Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX), Russia’s largest search engine, has announced significant changes to its Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) with the launch of interactive snippets called ‘Islands’. This new feature will speed up engagement with websites and services by allowing users to action their query – such as booking cinema tickets, making restaurant reservations or paying a bill – directly from the search page rather than through an organisation’s website.
Islands has been designed to provide a new level of user experience, responding to web searches with solutions rather than just information. As such, it will speed up the link between searches and services, minimising the risk of organisations losing business through lengthy search processes or complicated web pages. Evolved from ‘rich’ snippets, the tools for interactive snippets will be made available to web developers so that they can add this functionality to their websites.
With recent surveys showing that customers often leave a search page in less than half a second if they don’t discover what they’re looking for, Yandex believes that facilitating a rapid start to the user’s journey directly from the SERP will improve user satisfaction and conversion rates for online businesses.
“Apps have changed people’s expectations of usability, especially on mobile,” said Ilya Segalovich, CTO at Yandex. “When people search on the rich web these days, they are often looking to carry out an action. What happens now is that even if you can see in search results a link to the website where you can potentially book your movie ticket or pay your bill, you still need to click through to this site and possibly even browse a few pages before you find the booking form. We’re speeding up this process.
"Interactive snippets deliver a new level of user experience. Sitelinks are an outdated way of providing information and rich snippets are mere decoration. We know users want faster, more direct engagement with services, and interactive snippets mean businesses can better serve the needs of their customers by offering a shortcut to the ultimate search."
Importantly though, the launch of Islands does not mean Yandex will decide what information appears on the search page; that will be determined by the website owner who will be able to choose whether he or she wants to include interactive snippets, and if so, what they should look like. Yandex has also been working with a number of web developers to create the toolset.
The feature will be available for all searchers on different types of devices, launching first on personal computers and tablets and then on mobile devices. It is being rolled out to Yandex’s 8 million users in Turkey today and will then be introduced to Yandex’s broader customer base in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan in the coming months.
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