Yahoo! announced today that it is making a small number of Search Monkey applications default in search results for all users. Search Monkey, of course, is the search enhancement platform that Yahoo! launched in May which allows web site owners to create applications that enhance their search results in Yahoo! by drawing on structured data from their web sites.
Until now, users had to manually add applications in order to be served the enhanced results, but now Yahoo! is turning some of those Search Monkey apps on by default for all searches. To start, Yahoo! has selected apps from Yelp, LinkedIn and its own Yahoo! Local property.
“Before making an application ‘default on’ we require a few things: access to the site’s structured data through semantic markup or a data feed, a well-designed and broadly useful application and positive user metrics,” said Yahoo! Search Director of Product Management Amit Kumar. “To understand how a SearchMonkey app affects user metrics, we generally expose a small percentage of our users to a default-on experience and measure if and how it changes their usage.”
According to Kumar for some Search Monkey applications they have seen a click-thru rate as high as 15%, which indicates that users are really responding to enhanced search results listings.
Yahoo! promises that it will make other applications default on in the future, and hinted that it will do things like add links to the enhanced result application on some search results even if the app isn’t on by default, making it easier for users to find and add new apps on their own.
Today’s announcement is clearly a huge win for Yelp and LinkedIn, but it’s also a big win for the bottom-up approach to the Semantic Web. Because it demonstrates Yahoo!’s willingness to take the Search Monkey program to the next level and expose it to all web users this should inspire more developers to seriously explore creating applications for Search Monkey. And because one of the prerequisites to being considered for “default on” status is giving Yahoo! “access to the site’s structured data through semantic markup or a data feed” it could also help push out the use of semantic markup like Microformats and RDF.
Yahoo! announced in March that it would begin indexing Semantic Web and Microformats markup in an effort to display more structured data in search results. That, in addition with their commitment to Search Monkey, has positioned Yahoo! as a thought leader in pushing developers to use semantic markup. That can only be a good thing for the web at large.