If you haven’t heard by now, a couple of days ago Google rolled out another update for search during its second Searchology event. At the first event, the world was introduced to Universal Search, a revolutionary update that delivers blended results of video, images, web pages, books, etc. for virtually all search queries.
This most recent update introduces a few features that have the potential to be just as revolutionary.
One of these new features (and what I’ll mainly be focusing on) is Google Search Options, a toolbox of filters and other options that lets users drill down and expand any given search query. Search Options is now a permanent fixture of Google SERPs located in the upper left-hand corner with a link reading ‘Show Options’. By expanding the menu, you’ll find options to sort results by date, to be shown only videos, images or display more text than the standard 155 characters. You can even filter results to be shown reviews or forum discussions on a certain topic.
With Search Options, the hype around ‘personalized search’ has finally come to reality. Unlike Search Wiki, the laughable attempt at personalization that fizzled and was forgotten soon after its arrival, Search Options has the key characteristic the Google engineers forgot to install in Search Wiki: everyday usefulness.
The instant ability to adjust a search for common themes such as ‘by date’, or to find strictly one medium of results like video or images on an easily navigable toolbar is great. Doing all that without having to take the time to log into an account of some sort is even better. And the best of all, this is something Joe Searcher can and will use.
It’s simple, useful and, most of all, practical. There’s no voting up and down of search results (who wants to take the time?), commenting on random web sites you find (which is like shouting into the infinity of space), or logging into an account (so Big Bro can peer over your shoulder at what you’re up to).
For those of us in the search industry, this update has the potential to cause some headaches. Users now beginning search queries on broader topics don’t necessarily need to re-try their search with more-focused, longtail keyword variations. They can simply sort the information presented the first time around. Sure, there will invariably be the refinement of searches, but Search Options provides a path to do that without wracking your brain to try and come up with the right combo of letters and, sometimes, numbers to find whatever it is you’re looking for.
What do you think? Will the longtail explosion be curved with this search feature, and invariably others to follow? Will it thrive, as I hope it does, or will it burn out and become just as irrelevant as Search Wiki?
My only gripe is that Search Options seems to conflict with certain FireFox extensions such as Stylish, which change Google’s background colors and settings. As of now, Stylish settings need to be turned off in order to use Search Options. But all in all, a minor problem in the face of a major accomplishment.