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Google's Refine Search Gone

 4:05 pm on Mar 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Anyone have any information on Google's refined results dissapearing (you'd see them at the top of the page for certain queries in certain industries like health and travel). Looks like last wednesday/thursday they stopped showing in SERPS.



 6:19 pm on Mar 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't see them either. I wonder what that's all about. Google put quite a bit of resources into that taxonomy, and I appreciated it and used it. Now we have "Searches related to:" at the bottom of the SERP, but it's certainly not as finely tuned.


 6:31 pm on Mar 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

yeah those at the bottom have always been there for certain queries too (sometimes even in conjunction with the "refined" results). It seems odd because it was set as an experiment for a while before going "live" across all users and they have been available now for well over a year. This is a pretty significant change for those who work in industries that had these so I'm surprised to have not read anything yet.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:46 pm (utc) on Mar. 18, 2009]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]

Robert Charlton

 6:25 am on Mar 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing them on health and travel searches I just tried.

Could be they were testing an aspect of searcher behavior with and without them, perhaps in conjunction with some other variable.


 6:49 am on Mar 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

For those who may not have run into the "Refine search" options, here's a thread about it from last year:


Robert Charlton

 8:15 am on Mar 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

tedster - Thanks for bringing up that thread.

First, it reminded me of the distinction I'd noted in the thread between Refinements and Searches related to. To correct my post above, I am not now seeing Refinements on health and travel searches now. What I saw were the Related searches at the bottom.

I tried a few of the experiments we discussed in the "Refine Results - more: operator" thread, though, with some interesting results.

The health operator you noted in the thread, more:condition_treatment, does seem to affect the results. Searching for any illness...

illness more:condition_treatment

...among other things, removes the Related searches at the bottom, which do appear if you search for the illness by itself or with "treatment".

The operator also removes the Universal results.

When the medical Refinements appeared some time back, I remember being impressed by how much they had improved the results. But the quality of results I'm seeing in a plain vanilla search now are essentially as good, particularly with the extra specificity provided by the Related searches down below.

Also, trying the query string addition miamacs suggested...


...adding it to a cityname search still brings back the co-op travel refinements up top and adds the more:suggested_itineraries operator in the search box, but if you try it the other way, and search for...

cityname more:suggested_itineraries

...you won't get the refinements, but the serp will drop the Universal results, maps, and "Related to" suggestions.

Maybe Google has dropped the Refinements, or is testing dropping them, because Google is (a) satisfied with the results without them, and (b) wants the Universal results to appear on all searches.


 2:57 pm on Mar 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't think that the refinements and universal search/bottom suggested links are mutually exclusive. I understand that when you insert the more: modifier those go away, but when the refinements were live - before you modified there were still universal and bottom suggested links with appropriate searches (yes selecting a refinement removes them, but they were in the SERPS with the refinements for the initial query).

That's what's strange about this to me - from my experience people were using these, sometimes in the double digit percential range - which is a decent # for those types of options. I've never really seen a lot of complaints about these either.

I do see that they've changed their co-op page a bit, so maybe they're working on the refinements and will put it back:


Robert Charlton

 5:52 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's likely that the refinements have been replaced by the new search options we're now seeing...

New Google Search Options: Sort SERPs by recency, page type, wonder wheel, or timeline

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