<< by on May 21st, 2007
On Wednesday Google unveiled its new universal search engine along with a couple other neat things in Google Experimental which will allow users to try out some beta level tools they are developing. I’ll touch on that later, but first I want to talk about GUS (Google Universal Search).
What this means is that when a user puts in a search query, the results will now be a mix of different images, videos, maps, blogs, etc in addition to the standard listings. So theoretically, if Google finds the most relevant listing on a query to be an image or a video, that will be at the top of the SERP rather than a link to a website.
So far I haven’t seen anything much different going in my searches, but from one article I read on Digg.com (I can’t remember where it originated), the query they were giving as an example was for Steve Jobs. If you go ahead and put him in a search query, you will get a SERP that is a good example of what this means for searching on Google in the future. At the very top, you have three images of Steve. Underneath that there are the standard Wikipedia entries and some links to Apple. About halfway down the page, there’s You Tube video and it goes on. For a good summary of how Google did this, check out Eric Enge’s article over at Search Engine Watch.
The things going on at Google Experimental are pretty cool. There are four new tools that you can test drive. They are timeline and map views, keyboard shortcuts, left-hand search navigation, and right-hand contextual search navigation.
I think I like the timeline and map views the best. The timeline shows the results from top to bottom with the oldest date associated with the query at the top and most recent at the bottom. I put in New York Yankees and it starts in 1901 when they were the Baltimore Orioles and ends in 2000 when they last won the Series. It is far from comprehensive in terms of providing a history, but still could be useful. For maps, I put in major league ballparks and I got little red balloons all over the country. Again, it was not comprehensive as only about half of the stadiums showed up.
I was not very impressed with the keyboard tools. Maybe they just take getting used to, but they don’t seem to save that much time like other shortcuts do. Maybe I just like my mouse more than your average Google engineer.
The left and right-hand search navigations may be of the most interest to search engine marketers were they to ever become standard. The left-hand search adds a new column on the left where you can go deeper into your search and also offers related searches, while the right-hand contextual navigation puts a box above where the PPC ads usually start. Both of these features certainly could less a user’s chances of seeing and clicking on PPC ads. To give them a spin yourself, head over to Google Experimental.