There have been many search “preview” tools, plug-ins and add-ons that try and give users a peek at what’s behind a link on a SERP. Their objective is to circumvent the click and enable people to more quickly get to desired information. Almost all of these tools have failed to deliver on the promise of that idea. Generally, also, consumers don’t use them.
One of the most obnoxious in recent memory is the blog plug-in tool “snap shots.” Many blogs installed it because it looked “cool” but did very little in the way of adding value.
Bing does a version of this currently, which is relatively helpful but probably not widely used. An arrow to the right of each SERP link enables a small preview window. It would have a greater impact potentially if it showed more of the page and was more prominently called out on the SERP:
Roughly two years ago TigerLogic released a browser-based preview and search refinement tool called Chunk It, directed at consumers. Like most of these tools, few people used it.
Now the company has reinvented Chunkit as “yolink.” The new tool now does new things and abandons its consumer orientation for developers and publishers. From an adoption standpoint, that’s the right choice and gives it a fighting chance. The company just released an API that allows yolink’s enhanced search capability to be integrated into publisher site search and vertical search engines.
Yolink integration exposes more information about a document or page to users and makes that information clickable. You can see the tool in action in different contexts here.
Below is an example of Google Patent search, the current version and then the yolink-enhanced version. Text is extracted from behind the link, keywords are highlighted and users can click on the passage to go directly to the relevant discussion in the document.
While the presentation of the enhanced results and text are not particularly attractive there’s clear value in the service — at least for “power users,” academics and researchers. The question is whether niche search engines and mainstream publishers will see enough value to integrate it for “ordinary” users.