Russian Internet giant Yandex launches Islands to bring snippets of context to its search results

Russian Internet giant Yandex launches Islands to bring snippets of context to its search results

Russian Internet giant Yandex is bringing more engagement to its search results page after announcing the introduction of Islands, a new feature that adds snippets of text and context to search results.

The company — which says it sees five billion searches from almost 100 million users each month — is introducing Islands to allow website owners to display different kinds of information to users on the search page.

There are different types of Islands, ranging from search snippets, which are basic descriptions that appear below each search result. Site links can also be added to allow users to navigate to specific pages. Finally, there are interactive snippets which present more advanced options, such as logging into accounts from the search results page.

“Yandex’s new search platform embodies our new approach to search and website engagement, and features an attention-based search results page, where each search result is a standalone block of interactive information – an Island. These blocks are the first step to the user’s search goal and can be anything from factual information to purchase buttons or order forms,” the company explained in a blog post.

The introduction brings the Yandex engine a little closer to Google, which has enabled more context within search results for some time, but Islands goes a little beyond that. For example, using the right search can bring up of options for a site that users can take advantage before they actually click through — like logging into a Russian Airlines account from the search result.

yandex islands

Islands will first appear on Yandex’s Turkish service, where the feature is available via desktops and tablets, with mobile support due in the summer. From there, it will be made available to users in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan “some time later this year”.

Website owners can tweak their Islands to suit their requirements with the free-to-use Yandex.Webmaster service, but there is more to come.

Yandex says it is developing Islands into a more intelligent system so that it can produce different snippets based on pre-defined parameters, so — for example — can Yandex serve different Islands to users on a mobile phone, or in a certain location.

“Prospectively, Yandex users looking for ‘The Great Gatsby’ on their personal computer will see a ‘film review’ Island, those searching for the same on their mobile device will find an Island with the show times at the closest cinema and a booking form, while an Internet-connected TV viewer will receive an Island with a pay-per-view page to purchase this film,” the blog post explains.

That’s a pretty compelling offering for content producers, particularly given the difficulties that mobile-based search has run into due to the inherently different experience of using the Internet on a mobile device.

Yandex has been pushing out innovative products and technologies at a steady rate of late. Earlier this week, it launched Shell — a Facebook Home-like launcher app for Android devices — and it paired up with Opera to promote the Android ecosystem in Eastern Europe last month.

While the firm is dominant in many Eastern European search markets, it gained worldwide attention last year when it released Wonder, a voice-controlled search app for Facebook. Despite the positive reviews and phrase it was little wonder that Facebook cut the app’s access to its API, leading to its withdrawal from the App Store. Nonetheless, the innovation was noted.

Headline image via smallkaa / Flickr

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