A month ago, Google enabled starring of items in Google News. Now, they’re extending that same feature to the main Google search. Items starred sync with Google Bookmarks and the Google Toolbar.
Starring will replace SearchWiki, which enabled users to promote selected results to the top or nix other results altogether. Google said they found that people like marking items they liked, but they did not like altering organic results. These actions taken in SearchWiki only affected a user’s personalized search. The same is true for starring.
Move is latest in location-based features for the search giant.
Google has been on a “Nearby” kick lately. In January, they added “Near Me Now” suggestions to the mobile homepage. Earlier this month, they added “Nearby” suggestions to search results within Google Maps. Now, the main Google search results are getting the “Nearby” treatment.
This time, “Nearby” has been included in the “Search Options” panel. You’ll find it under the third options set, under the link for “Social.”
Click on “Nearby” and Google will automatically bring up results based on your default location. You can also customize your location in the Search Options panel:
Over at Mashable, Ben Parr noticed that Facebook updates have been added to Google’s real-time results. Twitter and MySpace are already featured in the real-time results, which are generally treated as a universal feature. In other words, you know how sometimes yousee sections for news results or image results? Real-time results appear in a similar fashion.
Actually finding an example of a Facebook update in Google results on your own can be challenging. Use Google’s “Search Options” feature and then click on “Updates” and search away until you find one. After many searches, I finally found a Facebook update for Olympic hockey:
Last year, Google unveiled its Social Search and launched into Labs. The idea is that you would see blog posts and other content from your social network in your search results.
Now, the feature is being rolled out to everyone as a new beta feature of Google.com. As part of the release, Google has also integrated social search into their Image search. You’ll see pictures from photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa.
The images will appear under their own special heading. You’ll also notice links to “My social circle” and “My social content.” Click on either of these links to discover your social network as Google defines it.
When it comes to teaching machines how to understand human languages, one of the key ingredients is synonyms. Yet what is easy for humans to understand is difficult for machines to grasp.
Search engines are making progress, and Google feels they’ve made enough progress to make a significant adjustment to their results. Synonyms are now bolded in some search results, just like the keywords from the search phrase are.
Google says this will only happen when their algorithms determine its “useful and important to bold.” It’s as vague as it sounds.
Google announced a bunch of new features today. Let’s dive in:
See the latest tweets, blogs, news etc. You can click on “Latest results” in the search results or the “Latest” link in the Search Options panel in order to get more results for a given keyword/phrase.
Hot Topics on Google Trends
This feature is similar to “trending topics” on Twitter. This is not the same as “Hot Trends” launched in September. That included a Google graph at the bottom of search results if you happened to search one of the top 100 hottest trends in Google search on a given day. This new feature is viewable simply by visiting Google Trends.
Google is making it easier to identify where some sites exist geographically. Normally, you can tell this information from the URL, such as .ca for Canada or .br for Brazil.
But when it comes to TLDs such as .com and .net, it’s not always clear. Google is adding country-specific information to the green URL line in the search results. Here’s an example per the Google Webmaster Central blog:
You can tell Google what country your web site is associated with. Log on to your Webmaster Tools account. Then go to Site configuration > Settings > Geographic Target.
They’re testing a permanent left sidebar in their search results, which would turn the results into three columns: new sidebar, organic results, search ads. Hmm, this reminds us of Bing. And Bing reminded us of Ask’s 3D design (which they’ve since abandoned).
Additionally, after experimenting with removing the submit buttons on the homepage, now Google is bringing back the buttons and testing them with a new color: bright, primary blue.
In the Google help forums, two screenshots of these experiments were posted:
In Google’s search results, they’ve always included the URL to the link associated with a given result. The URL is set in green text at the bottom of the result. Now, they’re replacing some of those URLs with site hierarchies.
Let’s say you’re searching for cat toys. Previously you may have seen:
Now you may see:
Domain.com > Example > Cat Toys
Here’s an example as seen at the Official Google Blog:
The root domain will always show. If the site’s hierarchy is deep, you may see an elipses to represent skipped categories:
Last April, Google launched the integration of public data into its main search results. Now, they’re adding even more public data – this time from the World Bank.
You can search 17 World Bank data indicators:
- CO2 emissions per capita
- Electricity consumption per capita
- Energy use per capita
- Exports as percentage of GDP
- Fertility rate
- GDP deflator change
- GDP growth rate
- GNI per capita in PPP dollars
- Gross Domestic Product
- Gross National Income in PPP dollars
- Imports as percentage of GDP
- Internet users as percentage of population