I would like to round up my last two posts on Google’s user experience innovations and experiements with search suggestions with a few comments on other quite recent search engine result page (SERP) innovation.
Sitelinks are short-cuts to specific pages within a site, and they have been around for a while. In Google they look something like this:
Pagelinks, however, is a quite recent addition to Google search result listings. These are not links to separate pages, but to relevant sections within the listed page. Wow, did someone say Semantic Search? Look at this screenshot:
The link after “Jump to” takes us right to the “Buying Property” section of the “Official Monopoly Rules Page”. It may seem like a small detail, but it means that Google is getting even closer to retrieving crisp facts and pieces of knowledge rather than documents containing the information sought after (aka Semantic Search).
Pagelinks are only available for web pages with internal anchors, like for this Wikipedia listing on Microsoft Live Search. Powerset, Hakia and Freebase are usually considered to be the foremost examples of semantic technology in search, but Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are all making small user experience improvements that aim to provide better answers.
Providing answers on the search engine result page is a continuing trend. Being able to search a site, play or preview a video, and see the weather forecast directly is clearly convenient for searchers. For site owners and search marketers it’s an increasingly important way to engage with customers. Enriched search result presentation is another way to brand and promote your website. Yahoo! is really pushing the envelope with their SearchMonkey program, letting anyone create custom listing for a site.
Automatic Spelling Corrections
Finally, Google is morphing the beloved “Did you mean” spelling suggestions into automatic spelling corrected searches. This screenshot shows how a search for “larry pge” is interpreted as “larry page”, and how Google shows two results for the corrected search above the regular results:
This feature is bound to be useful for searches that are obviously misspelled.
Mainstream search innovation happens in small increments, but is by no means standing still. Is it possible that we’re experiencing a search user evolution, rather than a user revolution?