Yandex has presented what it claims is a new concept in search engine results pages to a Russian audience at an online industry conference in Moscow. They’ve nicknamed the new concept “Islands,” but are describing it functionally as “Interactive Snippets” and the next step on from rich snippets.
To be launched in a few weeks in Turkey, followed by Russia, the new interactive snippets enable webmasters and publishers to coordinate their own on-SERPS interactions with users which are fully controlled by their own sites.
In a similar manner to rich snippets, the interactive versions are dependent on publishers marking up their content or alternately adding features to Yandex’s newly expanded webmaster tools console. The snippets can require a more expanded use of schema.org markup; but, Yandex believes that facilitating a rapid start to the user’s journey directly from the SERPS will improve user satisfaction and conversion rates.
Yandex CTO and co-founder Ilya Segalovich accepted that the concept depended on the cooperation of webmasters for its success.
“Publishers need to bring up to speed their Web-based activities to a level of usability delivered by apps to achieve an alignment of the Web and mobile worlds. Sitelinks are an outdated way of doing this and rich snippets are mere decoration.”
“All our user research shows they are incredibly impatient and some will leave a search results page in less than half a second if we don’t deliver what they want. By enabling them to start filling in contact forms, book appointments or get directions directly from the SERP, we get them hooked into the process more quickly and help them start their journeys much faster.”
Ilya Segalovich carried on by stressing, “At no point are we taking control of these interactions from webmasters. They can add and remove them at will and we will respect their wishes at all times. We do not own these interactions, we merely create a bridge between search and visit where the interactions can begin.”
He also confirmed that no ranking preference would be directly given to publishers who deploy the interactive snippets but because Yandex includes user behavior as a signal including click through rates, if the snippets proved attractive they could provide an indirect lift to adopters.
Simultaneously, Yandex is rolling out a new SERPS look and feel to accommodate the visual needs of the interactive snippets. Yandex also confirms that they have undertaken considerable research and discussed the new features with major sites targeting Russia, Turkey and the former CIS states. An example of the approach is available at beta.yandex.com
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