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This 58 message thread spans 2 pages: 58 ( [1] 2 > >     
New features on Google
new UI, personalized search, web alerts, numrange search, news images, ...

 5:44 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hey everybody, I didn't see a link to the press release that we sent out last night yet. You can read about the new enhancements here:

There's a lot in there:
- Labs has a demo of personalized search. Tell us your interests, and then you can move a slider and see the search results change in real-time. This gives you a good look at how search can be improved by knowing what the user is interested in.
- Labs also has a new feature called Web Alerts. When the Google search results or new results change for a term that you enter, Google will drop you an email to let you know. Both webmasters and regular users can enjoy this. :)
- There's a brand new user interface. The UI team made tons of little changes make the UI cleaner and faster to get search results.
- Searching in Google News will now show thumbnail photos in the results.

Plus my personal favorite that I haven't seen mentioned yet: numrange search. For example, suppose you want to search for results about Mt. Everest, but you're actually interested in things like the base camp and events that have happened at a certain elevation. If you do the search
everest "21000..21500 feet"

then you'll results specific to that elevation. The base camp seems to be reported at anywhere from 21,000 feet to 21,300 feet, for example--this search will find all the references.

A few nice things to notice about numrange searching: in the example above, you notice that it works with phrase quotes. And if you check out the search results, you'll see that we can match a number even if it looks like 21,300 instead of 21300. It also works correctly with dollar signs. I was at a book sale this weekend and I actually saw some dude scanning books with a bar-code scanner attached to his phone. I noticed that the phone was a Motorola and the scanner was a Symbol. I did a quick Google search when I got home and found out the the scanner was a PSM20i. Cool. Now suppose I want to find out how much they cost. I do the search
psm20i $100..$500

and suddenly I get the web pages that mention psm20i and have a dollar keyword between 100 and 500. Kinda fun. Or suppose your rich uncle has died (in the United States) and you want to find out about the estate tax on all his moolah.
estate tax $750000..5000000

would find web pages with specific numbers for you. Or you forget the ratio between the weight of an electron and a proton. You know it's somewhere in the range 1/1800 and 1/1900. Don't worry, that happens to me all the time too. A search like
electron ratio 1800..1900

will give you the answer straight off: 1:1836.

You get the idea--there's a bunch of new ways to find data that numrange searches unlock. So enjoy the new UI and things like thumbnails in news search results. And have fun playing with personalized search and web alerts and thinking about the future of search. I know we have. :)



 5:58 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks - interesting it should all be done together.

Much related talk:


 7:22 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

pssst GG, the numbering on the personalised search faq is messed up. the questions go from one to fourteen, the answers from one...to one?

i don't think anyones noticed though ;-)


 7:46 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yup. Normally features just sort of trickle out at Google and we don't really announce them that much, but every often we save them up a little bit. It helps people realize that there's often a lot going on at Google behind the scenes to improve search.

Here's another fun way to use numrange search: businesses along a stretch of road. For example, the main little downtown area in Mountain View, CA is along Castro St. It's a great street to walk down and get a slice of pizza, buy a candle, or read a book. So a search like
"100..900 castro" mountain view

is a good way to see some of the stuff in downtown Mountain View. You can even hack up your own little version of a local search. Imagine that you know Portland, Oregon zip codes are often in the range 97201 to 97272. A search like
97201..97272 guitars

lets you find web pages that mention the word 'guitars' and also has a number in that range.

The thing that I like about numrange search is that it shows some of the core improvements in our indexing/scoring infrastructure that Google has built behind the scenes. Stop and think for a minute: for the last 9-10 years, most search engines have relied on searching for a simple list of keywords, then processing the documents that match. Searching for web pages that match anywhere in a range of numbers gives a glimpse into more powerful indexing and search capabilities than just matching on a single keyword. Sometimes that power will be visible (e.g. numrange) and sometimes it won't be as visible, but my takehome point is that Google is never content with search as it is today. We're always looking for new types of data to search, new ways to search it, and innovative ways to make that search better. It's one of the reasons I love coming to work every day. :)


 7:48 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi GG,

Has Google dropped Dmoz? I can't seem to locate a directory link anywhere and when I do a search for specific keywords and get results, there is no link to a directory position on some results that used to exist in the directory.

What's the nature of this change?

Correction: I now see the link to the directory under "more" but it seems to be somewhat buried as you can't get to it via the main page. Even the Google directory page does not show a link back to it.

[edited by: Decius at 7:50 pm (utc) on Mar. 29, 2004]


 7:48 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Many thanks, stripey. I just dropped an email to the folks who did that demo. :)


 7:50 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nice new gadgets GoogleGuy!
Particularly enjoying the "Web Alerts" although it takes a while to send the confirmation email, I guess too many happpy webmasters and business owners keying in their critical search phrases :)
Keep it up


 7:51 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)



 8:20 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

BTW, am I the only one seeing a prettier layout when you click on the "more>>" link?
I was too lazy to type in "labs", so I clicked on "more>>" so I could click on labs instead. Instead of snapshots and a text description, there was some nice pictures, including a beaker for Labs. Hee hee.


 8:24 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Looks very UNIXy.

A lot of open source guis have similar graphics. It's friendly.


 8:26 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I did
google ipo $7000000000..25000000000

and got some numbers but I think it should allow "$7B..25B" to save us from typing lots of zeroes.


 8:32 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's a use that I hadn't thought of, IITian. :) There's a little weirdness where billion/million seem to mean different things on different sides of the Atlantic. I'd like to see some shortcuts too though. Searching for things like USA deficit or budget estimates could get monotonous with all those zeros..


 9:12 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

let's see how this one works:

GoogleGuy salary "$600,000...3,500,000"

Nope, no results. It must be higher but hey, you are worth it.


 9:17 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hey there,

GG: WoW! Great stuff! I like the new look very much and especially the Web Alerts are very helpful for crabby webmasters, looking for a backlink update every day and for users observing a search term over a longer period of time.

again great stuff, keep up this innovative work



 9:54 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy, has Google permanently killed in the SERPs the ODP description of listed sites, and more importantly the link to the Google Directory category? If so, I'd say a major step in the wrong direction.


 10:18 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

quotations, I wish. :) rfgdxm1, the directory is now an extra click away under the "more>>" section. When we stacked up overall clicks on the directory tab, directory descriptions, and the directory category at the top of searches against the overall screen real estate that it took, I think the clickthrough on the directory-based items was lower overall.

I wouldn't say that we've made any permanent decisions, but for now reaching the directory will take that extra click on the "more>>" link.


 10:43 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

The advantage GoogleGuy of having a link to the directory category of a site was that people could then easily find more sites similar to that. A lot of folks have trouble navigating directories. Personally, as this applies to my own sites, this is plus. Since my sites tend to come up higher in Google SERPs that other sites on the topic, it makes those other sites that much harder for people to find, and thus more traffic to mine. That directory cat link tended to be very useful for searchers looking for amateur sites. Amateur webmasters tend to be clueless about SEO, and thus often rank low on relevant searches. That link to the Google directory cat often is the only way to find a lot of amateur sites.

I only hope this wasn't done by Google to sell more Adwords. Commercial sites in the ODP that don't rank high on the SERPs, but are listed in the ODP, also were easier to find with that directory cat link. Now that Google has buried the directory such most won't even know it is there, buying Adwords is more critical for such commercial sites.


 10:49 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

A weird thing is that I just can't make the Firefox browser to show the new features. And, it also gives me a whole different set of SERPs than the ones I see with Camino, Safari or MSIE. Strange... but most probably cache related (even though I have emptied the browser cache about 5 times today).

<added>However, just about any local country site shows the new design. But Google.com just won't change in Firefox. Not even when going into images, groups, directory, or doing searches I _never_ did before.</added>


 11:01 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

As a professional searcher I constantly used the directory tab and the directory links within the results. They will be much missed, and my searching more arduous.

If the reasoning is that nobody ever used it - surely the Groups tab was used less often?

Or - surely there's room for an extra tab (or should I now say link)


 11:24 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Maybe it would be good for Google to have a feature for webmasters, so they can type it their site and a search term, and Google will tell you where your site is in the results. Saves you having to trawl through the results trying to find it.


 11:32 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Richie0x: I saw that <snip> already does that for you.


Googleguy there is no mention of Mozilla, et al, at: [google.com...]

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 3:00 pm (utc) on Mar. 30, 2004]
[edit reason] sorry guys. Do it for one - we'd have to do it for all 200 tool sites... [/edit]


 11:40 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

The thing that I like about numrange search is that it shows some of the core improvements in our indexing/scoring infrastructure that Google has built behind the scenes.

Sure, that is all well and good, but when are you going to give us full regex searches? ;)

I actually spotted numrange this morning when I first noticed the changes. Extremely cool! I probably wasted 1.5..3 hours playing with it. I could have used this several times in the last year.

I'm not sure if I like how it works even inside quotes, but I don't have a good way to fix it that a normal user would understand either.


 12:13 am on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just removed the Deskbar, while nifty and useful, taking up space on an already too cluttered task bar was too much, we need every inch there for new windows, I start my day with 6 of them before I get my coffee! Maybe if the Deskbar was a floating window it would be more acceptable..


 12:52 am on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

For the front page redesign, it's a success - losing the tabs and simplifying the interface even further counterbalances nicely with the slightly increased complexity of the "more>>" button. What's more, removing the dots before the Advanced Search / Preferences / Language Tools links has eliminated the display bug in my favorite browser - Dillo [dillo.org]!

Note that while Google.ca in English has the "more" link, in French there is still a link to the Google Directory ("Annuaire") on the main page, without a "more" link at all (the new look is there, though). Other country Googles may be done in the same way. Is this long-term, or haven't you finished translating the Options page yet? ;)

<added>Of course, neither has a Froogle link (which I assume is US only), so even on the English version there is space for a directory link.</added>


 1:12 am on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure, encyclo. BTW, thanks for the link to dillo--I'd never heard of it before!


 1:29 am on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the "more" link looks good. I never clicked on the Directory link from the search line, and I think the cleaner look is worth the extra click.

However, I agree with rfgdxm1 about the links from a specific SERP to the specific directory category. It was a nice feature that searching for J.Q. Bumbledurp would make a link to the Authors/B/Bumbledurp, J.Q. category show up under one site and the Shopping/Doorknobs/Designers/J.Q. Bumbledurp category under another. I think it helped users expand and contract their searches, and replicating it will take a user a whole lot more than one click, so I think it was more elegant when the link was returned directly on the search page.

*my two cents*


 1:43 am on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ummm, search for "why can't i find overture on google" and look at the highlighted "can't", seems to be a bug there. Not to mention the fact that I couldn't find overture on google! Like seriously, I typed overture in my address bar expecting the site to be somewhere in the top ten, the only thing I found was affiliate adwords which are all 404'd by my host file (suckers still pay for my clicks tho)


 2:05 am on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I was about to edit all that out of my post, it's irrelevant anyway, you can see the bug when searching for "can't i" (no quotes). But now you have pointed out there robots.txt it does make some more sense, but surely there are a lot of people linking to overture, and you would think that would bring them up. Anyway, I wasn't suggesting a conspiracy, I'm just disappointed that I have to type it into the address bar with the dot com. That's an extra 4 keystrokes! ;)


edit - Totally off topic, sorry, I just couldn't leave it alone:

link:www.overture.com - 42,600 results, no show in search

link:www.overture.de - 40 results, second place in serps. Doesn't entice an english speaker to click, even though it actually redirects to [content.overture.com...]

I dunno, something seems wrong.



 12:17 pm on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I now suspect there was, in fact, a small algo change associated with Google's new UI.

The highlighting of words in longer URL wordblocks has already been noted e.g. widget highlighted in www.Eurowidget.thing.

On my major keyword, the plural is irregular, e.g. widget & widgettes. Previous to the new UI, a search for widget, or widgettes produced *exactly* the same results (due to stemming).

Now the singular and plural produce different results,

I do better on the singular now, I assume because only the singular appears in my URL, i.e. I am eurowidget, not eurowidgettes. The widget part of my URL is certainly highlighted on the new Google page.

So now on the singular I get a boost, but on the plural I drop back again.

Seems these Google folks just can't help fiddling :)

(probably a good move though, as it weakens those URLs designed purely with SEO in mind i.e. long hyphenated word strings, rather than URLs designed to look good / sound good / appeal to the surfer e.g webmasterworld)


 4:43 pm on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

i noticed one more change in this mini-relaunch:

the site-operator can now be used alone. before a search for
would give you an error-message asking what keyword you'd be searching for. now the search "site:www.yahoo.com [google.com]" gives 46,000 results, almost just like "site:www.yahoo.com yahoo [google.com]" did before.

regarding ODP: i can understand that the directory tab/link was nuked (the landing page itself wasn't very useful, especially as there is no real search-for-categories feature).

however i really miss the category links in serps. especially when researching topics where i wasn't familiar with the specific keywords (not being an english speaker often doesn't make that easier) the directories were EXTREMELY useful. what a pity.

It also works correctly with dollar signs.
that's cool but what about the euro sign?

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