As google continues to strive to stay ahead of the pack new features are offered to make our search experience more useful. What follows are some new features introduced recently which may become more prominent on the Google homepage depending on user acceptance….

Vertical Search Vs General Search

Believe it or not a long time ago there was a battle between the different types of web search. This was the battle between the vertical search engines and general search engines. The general search engines search the content on the web and return results to reflect what you search for. Vertical search engines provide structured search results depending on topics, genres, media types etc… These types of search engines were originally seen as one of the best ways to search the web. Rather than typing in a random phrase into a search engine you could search through categories or even specific search engines dedicated to one media type or topic. You may have seen this in the form of a directory.

Nowadays people search for vertical search engines using general search engines. Google knows this and that is why Google have now introduced an extra column on their search engine on the left hand side. This extra column allows you to define the types of results that you want to view. Google has included this for quite a while now; at the top left corner of the page. There have been multiple links here that allow you to search for your chosen phrase under different categories such as images, videos, maps etc.. so in effect Google have combined their general search engine and added new features to include vertical searches. So Google has brought peace to one sided battle.

Google Vertical Search

Although Google has been providing this service for a while now; it is now more advanced.

As you can see from the above image the links that are at the top of the page have now been included in this new left hand column. This column not only allows you to categorise your search results depending on what type of data you want to view but also allows you to dig deeper into the data. This is best explained with an example:

Image Search

A good example of this is when you search on images:

As you can see from the above image the left menu has changed to cover attributes that are more specific to images rather than normal search results. Attributes such as Size which allow you to select the approximate size that you would like, or type which allow you to search under attributes such as Face which only returns pictures of people.

Google Time Search

Google also allows you to view results depending on when they were added.

As you can see from the above image you can now search results by date. This can be extremely useful. An example of this new features use is if you are monitoring a story that has been developing over a long period of time. For example you could type in “Maddie Mccann” and filter the results to view the latest information.

New Google Views

Google now allows you to view results in different ways. In the past they were simply a list of results. Now there are new view such as Related Searches which again has been on Google for a while but was included at the bottom of search results. However a fabulous improvement on this is then Wonder Wheel This allow you to view the search results as a diagram and also allow you to search from one set of related searches to another showing the search engine listing on the right hand side:

From the above image you can see that related search results appear in diagram format; you can now work through this diagram to find the search you want:

Above you can see that I have clicked on the internet marketing link and the results on the right hand side have changed and there are new related searched for this phrase.

I admit that although this has a new design this is something that could be achieved in the past on Google but this is a nice new development of not just showing search results in a standard format.

Shopping Sites, Page Previews, Page Images…

Another new feature as well being able to view search results differently is the ability to view different results. This is a great feature for the end user because it allows them to search more efficiently.

A great example of this are the ‘fewer shopping sites’ and ‘more shopping sites’ identifiers. This is something that will be extremely useful to searchers.

The results for this are quite impressive. Here is an example of ‘fewer shopping sites’:

As you can see from these results, Google resurns the converse homepage together with wikipedia.

However when you click on ‘more shopping sites’ there is a drastic change in both the results and the way that the results are shown:

Here we can see that Google hasn’t only just included shopping sites but has also included prices and products that are included on the page.

How does this affect SEO? – we’ll see as user preferences develop whether any of these specific features deserve special attention. However, it does emphasise the necessity of ensuring visibility via images, Google Base for shopping, video and most of all that you target the correct keyphrases.

Posted by Jon Seymour, SEO Consultant –