While Google didn’t invent search, the company has made it the search point of call for the internet. As consumers we tend not to go straight to specific pages instead we look for the information gathered into one place. That means that any tweaking with the magic Google formula is always going to be significant, and the company has now begun the roll-out of some of the most significant changes in several years.
Saying this however, the homepage that will confront millions of users will barely look any different. When it comes to results pages, however, there will be real changes. Rather than a crisp list of pages related to a user’s query ranged against the left-hand side of the screen, now a new bar has appeared. At first glance it appears to simply offer some simple options to limit which search results are visible – so if you search for “Search optimisation” it will offer “images”, “news”, “video” and more. But search, say, for shirts, and you’ll find that “shopping” appears as an option, as does the opportunity to limit results by colour.
The important thing about this new development is that Google now reckons it knows what sort of thing you’re looking for – so the options change according to the particular search. It is worth pointing out that Google is now doing what Microsoft’s search engine Bing has been doing for a while. This means that Google has now got all the features that previously made Bing a genuine challenger to their crown as the lead search engine. Theoretically this would imply that Google can maintain its dominance by simply adopting their rival’s best features.
Other new tools that Google is offering include suggestions for similar but different search terms – so “Search Optimisation” results will also include the suggestion that you might want to search for “Search Marketing”. This is the first step to the company’s previously stated aim of telling users what they want to know before they’ve even realised that they want to find it out.
With that in mind, it’s worth also looking back at how the company has been integrating real time results, from social networks such as Twitter, and news results from sites such as the BBC and the Telegraph. The effect is to differentiate between what people are looking at that moment as opposes to more historic data. The effect, perhaps, will be to create two tiers of knowledge – a reference library, and a glorified chat room. Perhaps that development might, even, make aspects of the web more obviously authoritative. Which alongside Google’s ranking information, could be seen as a step towards organising the internet.
We credit the Telegraph for inspiration for this article.