May 13, 2009
New Search Features From Google
Google announces new search capabilities at its Searchology event, including tools that manipulate search results into different data sets on the fly. Some of this is created when webmasters add code to their pages that allow Google to extract and display more relevant data in the snippets associated with a search result. The exampleon the Official Google Blog shows a result featuring a restaurant with review information, star rating, and text from reviews within the same snippet. That capability in reference to legal research may not be useful immediately.
Another feature allows for filters that can limit results to time periods and type of web page. The example here is a product review that limits the results to forums only, and published within the last week. I can see value here for tech related information, as a lot of practical knowledge on solving computer problems come through the forums. Typically they are scattered throughout the entire search result.
The more interesting search analysis tool is Google Squared. Rather than returning traditional search results, the feature organizes like data in a presentation form created on the spot. The post gives little information more than that, but indicates that Google will make it available later on this month through Google Labs. Google announced something similar at the end of April that allows a searcher to find and compare public data. It's possible to get unemployment data for a location and then add similar data from other locations. Google urged government sites to add code to its information so Google could extract information from databases, typically something no search engine can get to easily, if at all. The Center for Democracy and Technology issued a reporton this problem in December of 2007. This is Google's attempt at addressing it.
Google's Searchology announcements come right on the heels of publicity around WolframAlpha. This is a computational search engine that also pulls comparable data from around the world and assembles it in a unique presentation in response to a question. The interface is relatively sophisticated as are the breath of topics it covers numerically. WolframAlpha is not available yet, but the buzz is that it will go live soon. Look at the Examples entry on the WolframAlpha Blog to get a flavor. At first glance, the possibilities for it are intriguing. WolframAlpha isn't marketing itself as a better Google, but something that is not Google. That may make it something worth using. Consider Cuil, which got some publicity as a potential Google killer because it was created by ex-Google staffers who had different ideas about its search algorithms and display options. That got it some notice. As it turned out, the initial Cuil search results were spotty. The problems were fixed in time, but the traction with users is nil.
ChannelWeb notes the latest market share for search engines in the United States from Hitwise. For April, Google had some 73% of search, followed by Yahoo at 16.27%, MSN Search 1t 5.68% and Ask.com at 3.95%. Instead of being like Google, survival for some companies may hinge on offering something Google does not, or offering a better version of that capability. No one will be searching for restaurant reviews on WolframAlpha. [MG]
May 13, 2009 | Permalink
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