Friday, 15 May 2009

Google announces new search features

Google has announced a number of new search features in its Official Blog. The most notable is Search Options, which is a new panel that can be accessed from a link at the top of the search results and provides a collection of tools that let searchers 'slice and dice' their results to generate different views of the search listings. We will cover this in more detail in our June 2009 newsletter.

The second new development is "rich snippets" which are additional pieces of information that appear within a search result listing for a website to try to provide more details to aid the searcher in selecting the content they want. For example, for a restaurant search, these new "rich snippets" extract and show more useful information from web listings than the usual preview text and could include items like the number of reviews or the restaurant's price range.

However, these snippets can only be displayed if website publishers adopt microformats or RDFa standards to mark up their HTML to allow this structured data to be used. This can help people better understand the information contained within the web pages and will help improve clickthrough rates from Google's results. More information about using rich snippets can be found here.

The final new development is a tool called Google Squared, which is currently in beta. Unlike a normal search engine, Google Squared doesn't find webpages about a subject but automatically fetches and organizes facts from across the Internet - which would appear to be competing with the new Wolfram Alpha search tool which is due to launch shortly. Access to this new Google tool will be made available for review through Google Labs soon.

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