Searchology: Google Tinkers With Search Results Page

image*Google* has been accused of running a search “monopoly,” but the bottom line is that people actively choose it for search because they find the results more useful than from another engine. So challengers don’t try to attack Google’s utility — instead, they call the search giant’s results “bland” or say they’re “just blue links.” One designer even left Google for Twitter because he said the company was “too dependent” on data when it came to changing the look and feel of its search page. So almost on cue, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) revealed some tweaks to way the search page functions — features that give users control over the kinds of results they get, as well as the way they see them.

Called “search options,” (pictured) the new feature lets searchers choose to have their results grouped by genre (i.e. product reviews, forum posts or videos), by time (meaning people can choose to only see news results from the past 24 hours, the past month or year), as an actual timeline, or even a “wonderwheel” that shows relevant, related data. Using searches for terms like “hubble telescope” and “solar oven,” Google’s VP of search product and user experience Marissa Mayer showed Searchology attendees how the search options feature changed the look and feel of the search results page.

Why change things now? Mayer gave the standard company response about constantly trying to improve the user experience, noting that there were some times that the company couldn’t provide the “most relevant” results for a given query. “If someone was searching for the most recent info about a subject, or just restaurant or product reviews, they couldn’t get that with our standard results,” Mayer said. “We realized that they needed some kind of ‘slice and dice’ mechanism.” Of course, users can also choose to keep their results arranged in the original order that Google first presents.