Rich snippets – yep, they were a nice start, but Russian search engine Yandex thinks it’s time for something more powerful. Something it’s calling interactive snippets and a feature it’s branding as Islands for its search results pages.
Yandex says the new feature evolves from rich snippets, which CTO Ilya Segalovich refers to in the press release as “mere decoration.” Interactive snippets, in contrast, are actionable, letting users do things like book movie tickets, make reservations or pay bills right from the search page. Webmasters can choose to add this functionality to their web sites if they want to, and while it may get their business customers – especially those using smartphones and tablets – who want to make their transactions as seamless as possible, it does mean those users won’t be making the journey to the business’ own web site.
“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,” Segalovich is quoted as saying in the release. “We're speeding up this process,” he says, and letting companies offer their customers a “shortcut to the ultimate search.”
The specs to check out are here, as the feature rolls out to Yandex users in Turkey first this week and then to its customers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan in the coming months. Desktop and tablet users will see it first, followed by other mobile devices. In its overview of features the company notes a Form Description Language for creating interactive snippets; guidelines for describing forms with custom semantics in XML format; a tool for testing forms in interactive snippets; and extension of the Open Graph markup standard for interaction: web-handler (deep link) and http-handler (real-time interaction).
The search engine explains the idea further in this video: