If you want to try Yahoo's SearchMonkey technology to spruce up your Web search results, the Internet company has launched a beta version of its Yahoo Search Gallery featuring plug-ins from LinkedIn, Yelp, Epicurious, Last.fm, IMDB, and a few dozen others.
SearchMonkey lets developers write software that augments Yahoo's search results, for example offering ratings by movie titles or addresses, phone numbers, and maps next to restaurants. A more elaborate option involves building an "infobar" around the result that can let the user expand it into what amounts to a miniature Web page.
Clicking an extension gallery option takes the user to a page that shows a sample result, a button to enable the option, and a link to try it out in a live search. Users can choose to enable or disable various add-ons.
Three SearchMonkey extensions, all developed by Yahoo's own search programmers, are enabled by default for Yahoo search: a video player that lets people watch videos within the search results, a Yahoo Travel infobar that shows detailed hotel information, and a Flickr viewer to show images from the Yahoo photo-sharing site.
It remains to be seen whether SearchMonkey will ignite developer interest and help Yahoo reclaim search query market share lost to leader Google, but some programmers are getting involved. For example, a SearchMonkey add-on that shows rankings for Firefox plug-ins was added Thursday.
So far, the most popular SearchMonkey add-on is one from LinkedIn that adds details from LinkedIn profiles to the search results.
The LinkedIn option seems like a good idea to me, so I enabled it. However, for reasons I haven't dug into, I'm not actually seeing the LinkedIn SearchMonkey add-ons in my results. Maybe it's just me.
Another caveat: Using SearchMonkey technology isn't necessarily snappy. For example, I enabled the Amazon SearchMonkey add-on that shows Amazon product details for relevant searches. The Yahoo search result showed as fast as before, but it took a few seconds sometimes to show the extra Amazon information below. (Also, the Amazon add-on integration leaves something to be desired, I think.)
CNET Blog Network blogger Harrison Hoffman would like to see SearchMonkey-augmented results rise in the search rankings, but I disagree. I don't want a poor search result artificially elevated just because a fancy wrapper can make it more useful.