Experimental approach to new Google search methods
Google is in the process of launching two new features that will enhance the way users search for images and news, finds Karolyn Judge.
Google, ever the innovator, is trialling the new search methods, Google Similar Images and Google News Timeline, on its revamped development site Google Labs.
Similar Images works by using a picture rather than text to find other matching images. Timeline presents information already available in Google News but organises and displays it chronologically.
With Similar Images, a link is provided for images related to an existing result. Users can click on a link, and according to Google, it will let them find the result they want without having to refine their search.
For example, a search in Similar Images for ‘Paris’ will come up with the Eiffel Tower, the celebrity Paris Hilton and a photograph of an old church. Clicking on any of these images would restrict the search to one of the three.
While Similar Images aims to minimise excess results that aren’t relevant to a person’s search, problems have already arisen. The BBC discovered that after clicking on a similar image search link for a picture of John Prescott, only two of the 21 first page results were of the former Deputy Prime Minister, while 18 in the search were of Renee Zellwegger.
Google News Timeline presents results from different sources, including both recent and archived news, scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts and sports stories.
The experiments reflect a new approach to search engine techniques, says internet analyst Greg Sterling. “The approach is much more about multi-media, different views and different ways to navigate through data,” he said.
Google’s director of product management RJ Pittman emphasised that traditional methods are the main focus of their search engine.
“Keyword search is still critical and mainstream. It is also pivotal because it is a very efficient mechanism where someone asks a question, and they get an answer that is relevant and useful. I don’t see that going away.”