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Google Search Adds Topic Buttons to Help You Sharpen Queries

New suggestions pop up below the search field on mobile and are meant to help people get more-specific answers.

Google internet search
James Martin/CNET

Google wants to make it easier for users of its search engine to get more-specific results, by letting them easily attach additional filters to their queries, the company said in a blog post Tuesday. The new filters feature is rolling out "over the coming days" in English in the US on the Google app for iOS and Android and on mobile web, the post said.

When people type in a search term, new plus-sign icons appear below the search field, along with suggestions for narrowing a search by adding specific words. When searching for "dinner ideas," for instance, suggestions might include "plus healthy" or "plus vegetarian." Users can tap a suggestion to add the term to their query.

The feature is dynamic, Google said, so if you added "healthy" to "dinner ideas," the results would update (for "healthy dinner ideas") and you'd see further suggestions, letting you continue the process to get ever-more specific. You can also tap on the icons for the terms you've added to remove those terms and backtrack to an earlier search.

Google

Google said it figures out what to suggest "based on what we understand about how people search and from analyzing content across the web." People can side-scroll through the icons to get more suggestions, and they can also use an "all filters" option to see what's available, once they've scrolled all the way through a row.

Search remains Google's most popular product, with 40,000 queries being processed every second. That's 3.5 billion searches per day. Google monetizes search by serving people ads, its most lucrative revenue arm.

As competition from TikTok increases, Google engineers are constantly looking at ways to make search better and deliver answers faster. Google will soon add short-form videos in search so people can quickly get a sense of a specific place or topic.