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Author Topic: How to use Google’s new search tools  (Read 1672 times)

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How to use Google’s new search tools
« on: 16. May 2009., 15:45:31 »
Google has unveiled a new range of tools that will allow web users to dig deeper in to their search results. Here, we take a closer look at two of the new services on offer, and how they can help you find what you’re looking for.
Google Search Options

Search options

This simple tool enables web users to filter search results by time period and even media type. Type your search query in to the Google box as usual so it brings up the usual list of results. Just below the Google logo on the top left-hand side of the results page, you’ll see something new – a hyperlink labelled “show options”.

Clicking on that brings up a new sidebar along the left of the results page, divided in to three categories. The top category, “All results”, enables you to filter searches by the type of webpage they appear on. You could, for instance, type in a search for “Apple iPhone”, and filter that so you only see links to forum posts about the Apple iPhone, which is very useful if you need to find out what users think of a device.

Alternatively, you could choose to filter results so that you only see web pages that contain reviews of the iPhone. Or you could search for videos that feature your search term, in this case, the Apple iPhone. Filtering by video returns clips from a good variety of sources – YouTube and Google’s own video service, as you would expect, plus the likes of AOL, Daily Motion and HowStuffWorks.

It is, perhaps, a curious omission not to have the option of searching by image built straight in to this left-hand column, but the image search link remains prominent on the page, in its usual spot above the Google logo. And there is a link further down that column, called “images from the page”, which will at least display the pictures that accompany the web pages in search results.

You can flick back to the standard list of search results by click the “all results” link at the top of the column at any time.

The next search option is to filter by time. You can narrow web pages down to “recent results” – in effect, a sort of Google News-style search, which bumps the most recently published web pages and stories to the top of the search results queue. You can see what has been published in the last 24 hours, or over the course of the last week or the last year. In all instances, you can flick between sorting by relevance or sorting by date, to reorder the list to reflect the very most recently published webpage for the designated time period, or the ones that best match the key terms you are searching for.

Finally, users can get a different slant on their search results using the “related searches” option. This pulls up a hyperlinked list at the top of the page, above the results list, of other searches carried out by people who also searched for the original phase. The aim, clearly, is to help web users find precisely what they’re looking for by offering a more refined list of search possibilities. So, the search for “Apple iPhone” brings up related searches for “apple iPhone uk”, “apple iPhone pay as you go”, “apple iPhone unlocked”, plus more tangential terms, such as “O2”, “Vodafone”, “BlackBerry” and “iTunes”.

So far, so good, and all genuinely useful, but the “search options” tool essentially presents a subtly tweaked list of search results that, to the untrained eye, look exactly like a standard list of search results.

That’s where the “Wonder Wheel” comes in – it creates a visual representation of search results in a spider diagram-like format. Clicking on the Wonder Wheel option brings up a tag cloud of hyperlinked search phrases. In the centre is the search term – in this case, “Apple iPhone”. Branching out from that “hub” are “spokes”, leading to related search phrases that might help a web user to find what they’re looking for more quickly. So “Apple iPhone” branches out to “apple iPhone release date”, “apple iPhone specs” and even “nokia n95”.

Clicking on one of those related terms sees the Wonder Wheel redrawn on screen, before your very eyes. The new search term – in this example, “nokia n95” – now sits as the hub of a new wheel, from which other spokes of related search terms protrude. Underneath this new wheel, still clickable, but in greyed out text to show it’s the secondary feature, is the very first Wonder Wheel, with “Apple iPhone” at the centre. All along the right-hand side of the screen are the familiar list of web pages that relate to that search term, and which users can click on to visit that page.

You can, of course, continue to build new Wonder Wheels by continually clicking on new related searches. Google only displays two Wonder Wheels on screen at the same time – the original wheel, greyed out at the foot of the page, and the new wheel in the centre.

Wonder Wheel is one of two new visual representations of search results available. The other, “timeline”, scans the results page for dates mentioned in the text, and shows a graph of the volume of pages that correspond with those dates in set intervals, such as 20 years or 50 years.

Move your mouse over the timeline to pull up all the stories that appear between set dates, or enter your own search dates to narrow the results still further. It’s particularly useful for tracking the “zeitgeist” of certain keywords and topics. For instance, a search for “Apple iPhone” shows a timeline with a just a tiny smattering of web pages that used those keywords in 2006. By mid-2007, when the device was launched, there’s a huge volume of web pages containing those terms. Similarly, a search for “twitter” shows how it’s only really in the last year that the microblogging service has achieved widespread coverage.

Google Squared

The second major search enhancement unveiled by Google is Google Squared – but there’s no point hunting for it yet, as the tool doesn’t go live for another couple of weeks.

We got a sneak peek at the service though, and early signs are very promising. Google, it seems, is starting to realise that although a “search” engine is good, an “answer” engine is better. The soon-to-be-launched Wolfram Alpha, a computational search engine, aims to distil complex questions in to a single search result. For example, a search for “nutritional value of a Big Mac” would return just one result, which Wolfram Alpha produces by scanning its database of stats and information, to present a breakdown of the burger’s salt, fat and calorie content.

That’s exactly the kind of thing Google is hoping to achieve with Google Squared, but rather than searching a huge dedicated database, as Wolfram Alpha does, it will instead trawl the web to bring in answers.

In the example we saw, the search term typed in to Google Squared was “list of London boroughs”. Within seconds, Google had created a grid of relevant results. Along the left-hand column was a list of London boroughs; in the second column was a list of council leaders; in the third, the address of the corresponding town hall; and so on and so forth, across columns about population, obesity levels and the like.

The beauty of Google Squared is that you can tailor the results as you go. The list of boroughs was incomplete, but by clicking on the column, you can input a new borough in to the list and Google will immediately look for the information to fill out the rest of the columns. Likewise, if there’s a column of information there you don’t care about – like the address of the town hall – you can just click to remove it from the results grid.

Google Squared, while impressive, is by no means perfect. A search for tallest mountains, which I hoped would result in a list of the world’s 10 tallest mountains, was a curious mishmash of vaguely mountain-related search results but with seemingly no connecting thread between them. A search for moons, which I hoped would list the names of all the planets’ moons, was tantalisingly close to what I was after, but needed some serious column editing to get the information just right. One weak area of Google Squared is statistics. One of the moon columns had a list of baffling numbers, which I assume related to the mass of the moon, but with some expressed one way and others expressed another, and with no key or context to explain and define this, that column was more of a confusion than a help.

Nonetheless, Google Squared shows fantastic promise, and in time, could become the first port of call for students and researchers who need to distil a complicated series of data or information into an easy-to-read table. The inclusion of links within the columns themselves will push users directly through to the relevant websites. However, some experts have questioned whether the ability to get answers at-a-glance in this manner will reduce the number of people clicking through to the linked sites, and thus impact their traffic figures and advertising revenue.

Google Squared will appear in the Labs section of the Google homepage some time in the next few weeks. Web users should seek it out at the first opportunity.


These search innovations will be welcomed by web users and are a timely boost for Google, which faces a new and impressive challenger in Wolfram Alpha. The ability to filter search results by date is useful, and the visual representation provided by the Wonder Wheel will certainly appeal to many web users. Narrowing results by forums or reviews can occasionally be a hit and miss affair, with Google relying on webmasters to tag and label their web pages properly to ensure they are recognised as review sites or forums and thus pulled in to the results list. Google Squared shows bags of potential, but is more successful with some searches than others. A spokesman for Google said the more people use it, the better it will get at delivering the right information first time, but I think it will be some time before Google Squared makes the leap from Google Labs to the main search page. But when it does, web users will quickly come to rely on its dynamic search capabilities, useful tools and simple presentation.

Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts.

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How to use Google’s new search tools
« on: 16. May 2009., 15:45:31 »


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Re: How to use Google’s new search tools
« Reply #1 on: 13. October 2010., 01:45:34 »
cool...gud to knw


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Re: How to use Google’s new search tools
« Reply #2 on: 21. January 2011., 06:54:57 »
Thanks for sharing !!


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