Yahoo! announced support for enhanced search results last week based on Facebook Share and RDFa markup. Website owners can add a few meta tags to their pages to boost click-throughs from a more visual Yahoo! Search result and ease the process of sharing a link on Facebook at the same time. In this post I will cover the major categories of enhanced share types — audio, images, video, news, blogs, games, documents, and multimedia — and walk through how site owners can stand out on shareable platforms. Yahoo! and Facebook are just the first two platforms to collaborate on this effort. Expect more announcements from a variety of activity stream and URL share providers in the future.
Why add special markup?
Shared pages and search results contain, at a minimum, a title and a description extracted from your site’s
<head>. You can enhance your search and share capabilities by explicitly specifying a thumbnail image or playback data you would like included directly alongside mentions of your pages.
<meta name="title" content="Apple iPhone 3G" />
<meta name="description" content="iPhone 3G combines three products in one..." />
<link rel="image_src" type="image/jpeg" href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/iphone_thumb.jpg" />
Thumbnails appear alongside Yahoo! search results in a 54 pixel high by 98 pixel wide image window. Thumbnails might be overlaid with a call to action for supported mediums and their embedded players.
The Facebook Share API supports annotating a page as audio, video, generic multimedia, an image, blog content, or news content. Publishers simply add a single line to their pages to help Facebook classify the type of page shared by their users and apply the appropriate specialized handling.
<meta name="medium" content="blog" />
Yahoo! Search currently supports enhanced search results for video, games, and documents (all wrapped in a Flash player). Playback SWF files must be white-listed by Yahoo! before they are supported for inline playback (Facebook also white-lists). Yahoo! currently supports the following websites’ embedded Flash players:
Facebook supports track title, artist name, album name, and a direct link to the audio through its share interface. Facebook users should be able to playback MP3s and other popular audio formats from their social news feed.
<meta name="medium" content="audio" />
<meta name="title" content="Pearl Jam - Black" />
<meta name="description" content="Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay..." />
<link rel="image_src" type="image/jpeg" href="http://pearljam.com/ten.jpg" title="Ten Album cover" />
<link rel="audio_src" type="audio/mpeg" href="http://pearljam.com/black.mp3" />
<meta name="audio_type" content="audio/mpeg" />
<meta name="audio_title" content="Black" />
<meta name="audio_artist" content="Pearl Jam" />
<meta name="audio_album" content="Ten" />
Video sites should specify their embedded player and its desired height and width on each video page. White-listed players will be played back directly in a social news feed.
<meta name="medium" content="video" />
<meta name="title" content="The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Thu, Mar 12, 2009" />
<meta name="description" content="Jon Stewart and CNBC's Jim Cramer go face to face in the studio." />
<link rel="image_src" type="image/jpeg" href="http://thumbnails.hulu.com/73511_145x80.jpg" />
<link rel="video_src" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" href="http://www.hulu.com/embed/_3TIApx3ymwKbAfZnz-MKA" />
<meta name="video_width" content="512" />
<meta name="video_height" content="296" />
<meta name="video_type" content="application/x-shockwave-flash" />
Search results pages and social news feeds provide new sources of referrals for connected sites. Webmasters can spice up their pages with a few extra meta tags to stand out any time a machine or a human decides to share your content with others. Adding thumbnails to a page, something as simple as a user profile picture in a social context, is a simple step that will help your content stand out from the crowd.
Publishers supporting embedded Flash players should consider the impact of off-site inline playback on their business. If you’ve already embraced spreading your SWFs far and wide you should jump on the white-list queue early to gain a competitive advantage through partners such as Yahoo! and Facebook.