Search Listings Get Dressed Up, but Good Luck Finding Them

Danny Sullivan on Search Marketing

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C'mon search listings -- we're going out on the town! It's time to dress up and strut your stuff, now that the search engines are making it possible to wear more than your usual title, description and URL.

Enhanced listings, for want of a better term, are well worth paying attention to. They allow search marketers to make their listings stand out from the usual same old, same old we've known for years.

Yahoo is the leader in the enhanced-listings game right now. Through its "SearchMonkey" program, developers can write applets that make their listings stand out on Yahoo.

Danny Sullivan
Photo: Jason Meyer
Danny Sullivan has been covering the search-marketing industry for more than a decade and is editor in chief of SearchEngineLand.com.
For example, a Yahoo search for "Coldplay" brings up MTV's listing of the band. Under the usual listing information is a drop-down box for "MTV artist info," where with a click, you get an image of the group, a bio snippet and direct links to MTV videos, news and photos of Coldplay.

MTV made this happen by submitting information telling Yahoo how to enhance its listing. This option is open to any site owner. So what's not to love about dressing up your listings?

For one, the display could be better. Searchers only see most enhancements if they use a drop-down box -- and, unfortunately, searchers tend not to use options like that.

Worse, only a lucky few have their enhancements enabled for all Yahoo searchers. MTV isn't one of those. Only searchers who select the MTV enhancement option from a gallery of choices will then see it appear. It would be much better if Yahoo just let all enhancements show by default. Despite the faults, it's a start, and I hope we see more.

It's worth noting that over at Google, for nearly two years some have had little links appear under their listing if they're at the top of the results page. A search for Target provides a good example of this. Under Target's main listing are further links to things like "store locator" and "specials."

This is another example of enhanced listings. The links are called Sitelinks, and Google decides what to show for your listing automatically. At the end of last year, site owners were at least given the ability to block some of the links that show if they don't like them. It's all done through the Google Webmaster Central service, which is free. So if you don't like how Google is accessorizing your listing, feel free to toss out some of the bling yourself.
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