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New Yandex Feature Could Give Some Websites an Advantage

Segalovich describing the new feature Thursday at its launch in Moscow. Guennadi Moukine

Internet search results will become interactive, enabling users to buy movie tickets or book doctor's appointments directly from the search result page, Yandex co-co founder Ilya Segalovich said Thursday.

The new platform, christened Yandex Islands, extends the functionality of rich snippets — short bits of information displayed in search results under the web site name.

Search engines like Google and Bing already display dynamic data from third party websites. Usually, it's a website thumbnail, an author's photo or a set of stars, reflecting user rating.

Yandex is taking this functionality a step further, making this dynamic data interactive. "Our message is quite simple," Segalovich told The Moscow Times, "we think that it is a good way to improve your presentation on the web search engine. It is logical and conforming with what has already been done in regards to rich snippets. [Yandex Islands] is an expansion, rather than a new product, aimed to bring a more targeted and result-focused audience to the site."

The search engine will re-design the page layout, presenting these rich snippets as "islands" — blocks of information, containing anything from a simple "buy now" button to a more complex order form.

For example, if someone searches for a doctor, Yandex may display a calendar from a local clinic, with time slots available for booking. The user will be able to book an appointment directly from the search results page.

Yandex Islands will not work, however, unless a site's webmaster first tweaks the website's code to allow the search engine to access the information.

The new feature will not affect ranking of websites in the search engine, although that could be an indirect result. "If people see two similar sites [in the search results] and one has [an island] and the other doesn't, they may tend use the one that does," Segalovich said.

Yandex is a Nasdaq-listed IT company that operates the largest search engine in Russia, with 61.9 percent market share. It has a turnover of over $1 billion and employs over 5,000 people in seven countries, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Turkey.

Yandex will begin public beta testing of the new interface next month.

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