(Note that this is from a very sloppy series of test searches, not what I'd call exhaustive or systematic).
This seems to be the rollout of something new, but also likely to be a full spectrum test. It varies according to type of query and type of site.
For ecommerce searches, I'm seeing the pattern I reported above... "2 or 3 additional inline refinements"
on the top several results, showing departments within the site returned.
I'm assuming that what netmeg saw was on a search where we'd previously have expected Sitelinks or mini-sitelinks, and I tried searches where I know a site is dominant, and also navigational queries.
I'm not yet seeing the full monty that netmeg's seeing, but I am seeing a larger mixture
of different types of refinements than I have before. That does smell like a test.
The pecking order makes some sense in terms of type of site and search vs what's likely to be most useful. The general pattern I'm seeing is that a search on which a site is fairly dominant will return serps corresponding to one of the following, in order of increasing importance...
- inline mini-sitelinks
- inline mini-sitelinks and an additional page as a second listing
- six sitelinks (in two columns) and an additional page as a second listing...
And, as you start including terms contained in the domain names, moving towards a navigational search...
- you continue getting the six sitelinks, and the additional page below turns into a plus box offering more results from.
- then, inline mini-sitelinks are added to the above...
- and then, the ultimate that I've seen, with a navigational search for the New York Times, I'm seeing mini-sitelinks, each on its own line and each a top story headline and
, instead of a more results from link, I'm seeing a search box below the six Sitlinks in two columns.
Haven't seen a search box in the serps for a while. Also, I think I'm seeing all this change over time. I should note that I'm seeing these results whether I'm signed in or not.
On a site when I'm signed in on an account where I haven't yet enrolled in Google+, though, and have Web History turned off, I'm getting this additional message on some results (in place of the number of pages normally displayed)...
80 personal results. This is a limited preview. Upgrade to Google+
The number varies, and the "xx personal results" is a link. I tried the link, and candidly... no axe to grind... I very much prefer the unpersonalized results. The personalized results, IMO, are a total filter bubble.
netmeg - You may have gotten a personalized narcissistic serp jackpot. ;) I'm curious how long your particular mix continues, and whether or not the results you're seeing are somewhere labeled as personalized.