Yesterday, Google announced two changes to its search results page that it hopes will help people find what they’re looking for without being overwhelmed by too much information. The changes are subtle and consist of extended snippets below the results as well as a handful of links at the bottom of the results page that suggest related searches.
The first change, which extends the description of the result below the blue-colored link, applies only if a person has typed in a long query. Usually when a person searches for keywords using Google, a two-line snippet, with bold keywords, shows up under the result link. The idea is that the snippet puts keywords in context, indicating whether or not the link is a good choice for the user. And the more of a snippet that’s provided, the better choice a person can make.
The second change–the added links at the bottom of the page–reveals some of the common search terms associated with the keywords used. For instance, a search for “vitamin D” results in eight related searches, including “vitamin D deficiency” and “calcium.”
This isn’t the first time Google has changed its interface. Over the years, features such as easy, single-click search for images or news items containing keywords, and the ability to lift the ranking of a particular item in the search results, have crept in to the results page. But since its inception in 1998, Google’s search interface has remained relatively static, sticking with a simple formula that has proven successful.
But bigger changes could be afoot. Last year, the company offered an “alternate views” experiment on the Google Labs page that essentially adds three search filters to a participants results page: “Info view,” “Timeline view,” and “Map View.” While it’s unclear that any of these features will stick, it indicates that Google engineers are testing dramatically different ways to serve up search results.