Yahoo's lab in India is developing technology that will summarize information about web search results rather than simply offer links as search engines currently do.
"When you type in a search today, you get a list of URLs (uniform resource locators), and they are not very informative," Rajeev Rastogi, vice president of Yahoo Labs Bangalore said on Thursday.
The technology, which will be offered on Yahoo Search next year, will offer small abstracts of the key information behind a URL, Rastogi said. "This will be much more informative for an user, and will offer him a much richer web experience," he added.
The Bangalore lab is working in the area of automated information extraction, which involves going into the URLs, going through billions of pages, and extracting the relevant information, he said.
If it is a product page, users will typically get abstracts that include an image of the product, the name of the manufacturer, and the price, Rastogi said. Likewise a link to a hotel would have its address, telephone number, maybe a map guiding users to the hotel, and the rating of the hotel, he added.
Yahoo made available to developers earlier this year SearchMonkey, a platform that it said would allow developers and site owners to customize the presentation of URLs in search results.
"Clearly we don't expect that everybody will adopt SearchMonkey, so this 'rich results' piece is our in-house effort to automate the information extraction for large classes of web sites," Rastogi said.
The Bangalore lab is also working with other Yahoo labs in the area of search query refinement.
Going further than current Yahoo technologies like Search Assist which auto-completes search queries, the new refinement technology will suggest new categories of web pages to search users.
If a user types in "cars", he could be at various stages in the purchase cycle for a car, or is maybe looking for a car mechanic, or wants to rent a car, Rastogi said.
The new technology, which will be available to users by next year, will prompt users to help them refine their queries so that they can narrow down the category of URLs that have the information they are actually looking for, he said.
The refinement will be guided by a recognition of the user's intent from his previous searches, his visits to other Yahoo web sites, and other information, Rastogi added.