Google recently announced that they are rolling out a couple of new features for Google Search.
The first feature is in line with their ongoing mission to more accurately determine the intent of a user when serving results based on the search query used. For example, if someone searches “bass”, they’ll get results relevant to the species of fish, the guitar, shoes and more. In fact, I was even served a YouTube video result on how to Balloon Bass.
Google now says they are deploying a new technology to serve more and better refinements based on the original query.
These related search suggestions can be seen at the top and bottom of SERPs, and now, with the unfathomable amount of data Google has compiled over the years, they have developed and launched a new technology capable of better understanding the user’s intent, and therefore, providing more useful refinements.
Compared with the first example using “bass”, you can see that Google also makes suggestions for longer, more specific queries as well. And this is the trend in search behavior.
More and more, users are becoming increasingly specific in their search patterns, often using three, four or even five word search queries. People understand the vastness of the Web, and understand the range of results they could potentially get when using a one-word term like “bass” in a search engine.
Because longer search queries are becoming more popular, the second feature that Google has rolled out corresponds with this trend. The feature: longer snippets.
Snippets are the few lines of text which reside below the blue title in traditional search results. For the pages Google serves based on the search query, these snippets help to convey what these pages are all about and whether or not they’ll meet the user’s needs.
Often times, however, and especially with longer queries, these snippets were too short to allow a user to make that call without clicking to see more. Google’s working to change that by providing users with longer snippets for longer queries so that they’re able to better determine just how relevant a search result is to their query. Here’s an example provided by Google:
I’m glad to see that Google is making the judgment call and automatically embedding longer snippets when appropriate, rather than embedding an optional click feature for more text.
Search engines are still far from consistently understanding the user’s intent, but I like what Google has done here.
I’d also like to see more improvements for Universal Search Results. How about more info on Video results when served, such as the date the video was uploaded, or including longer snippets with News results, or even some snippets with Blog results?
Since Google started integrating mixed results because they found relatively few people searched using their verticals, like Google Video, they could also use the enhanced related searches feature to suggest different types of results. For example, “video results for [insert query here].” That way, the user could see several videos rather than just one or two in the main results.
I don’t want to get into all that they could be doing, though, because I know you can’t do everything at once, and again, I like what they’ve done here.
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.