New filters in Google search for speed, news

Google adds several new filters to its search options panel unveiled in May, letting searchers find results from just the last hour, or results from within Google News and Books.

Tech Culture
The new options on the left side of a regular Google search results page emphasize how important presentation has become in search results. Google

Google has added a few new filters to the search options panel it introduced last May, emphasizing speed and continuity on its search results pages.

The "show options" link at the top of a Google search results page brings up a number of filters on the left side of the search results page that allow searchers to refine their queries, allowing them to search just for content types like videos or search results from a certain timeline. Google is gradually rolling out some new options in that panel, allowing searchers to find results from the last hour or results posted in Google Books or Google News, said Nundu Janakiram, product manager in search. Searchers will also be able to select if they want to see more results from stores or less results, depending on whether you're shopping or looking for other kinds of information.

You've obviously been able to search within Google News or Google Books up until this point, but Google thinks the new search options are useful because they won't require the searcher to leave the main search results page. Clicking on the "News" filter will present Google News result, but the look and feel of the page won't change with the new filters, Janakiram said.

This could also allow Google to sell different types of ads on the same search results page. The filters chosen by the searcher can be "a potentially helpful signal about user intent, so it does change the way ads appear," Janakiram said. It's not clear whether Google will actually use different sets of ads for different filters, however; it could just do what it currently does in removing ads from search filters where they don't make sense, such as the Timeline view.

Those features will be enabled for any Google visitor, but if you're a Google account holder and have chosen to enable Web History on your account, Google will also surface a filter that lets you refine results by pages you have already seen. This could let you more easily find a page you've already visited or make sure you exclude the ones you've already decided don't work, Janakiram said.

The new options emphasize how competition in the search business at the moment is focused on improving the presentation of search results, as opposed to better ways of indexing and ranking the results themselves. Work obviously still goes on at that level--Google is currently in the process of testing its massive Caffeine update--but much of the innovation we've seen in recent months involves the presentation of search results through graphics and a focus on the so-called "real-time" Web.

Much of Bing's early success can be attributed to its eye-catching presentation, and Wolfram Alpha is attempting to carve out a niche in search through a completely different method of presenting results. Accuracy and relevancy are arguably just as important to searchers as they ever have been, but just about every search provider has articulated a desire to move past the "ten blue links."

The new features build on a couple of other enhancements Google has trotted out in recent days, adding a "Hot Trends" link to the Google Trends page for emphasizing popular searches as well as "jump to" links that direct a searcher to a Web page beyond the home page for that topic.

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