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Oct 2, 2009

Google search inWeek 10/2/09

At Google, we're completely committed to the needs of our users. This is one reason we make constant changes to the user experience — so you have a better search experience. Some of the changes are larger features like our Search Options; some are small visual refinements, like our larger search box. Starting today, we'll post a story each Friday that showcases some of the user experience updates we've made to our search in the past week, complete with example searches, and how and where to see the improvements. This way, loyal search aficionados can see and experiment with all of updates in one easy-to-access place.

Hot Trends highlighted on results page
Have you ever wondered how many people query [tsunami] or [samoa] right after they read about it in the news, or are you the only one looking? For years, Google Trends has let you search an aggregation of what other people are searching for. Now we're taking that concept to the results page and showcasing fast-rising terms with a graph at the bottom of the page. To see it, try one of these searches and scroll to the bottom:

Example search: [olympic bid]
The queries here are rather fleeting by nature — one minute they're hot; the next, cold. (Apologies if [olympic bid] no longer shows this off.) The easiest way to be sure to see this feature is try one of the searches from our Hot Trends page. You'll see the hot trend featured at the bottom of the search results page, highlighted with a graph.

New tools in Search Options
We've just added a host of new tools in our Search Options panel. To view the Search Options, do a search, find "Web" in the top blue bar, and click on the "+ Search Options" link to the right of it. A navigation bar on the left side of the screen will appear. We launched Search Options back in May, but this week we're adding a set of new and exciting features. Among them:

Better way to shop and research products
Have you ever found that your search sometimes feels too commercial when you're just starting to think of buying? Or maybe you've experienced the opposite, where you can't find an online store to buy something despite your best attempts. We've just introduced a way for you to control the number of stores you see in your results.

Example search: [flip camera]

Click on the link in Search Options that says "Fewer shopping sites" and you'll see mostly reviews and technical specifications. When you're ready to buy, click on the link in Search Options that says "More shopping sites." You'll see mostly stores listed, and the results even note the prices and specific products right on that page.

Learning from history
If you use personalized search and web history, it's now easier for you to see which of the search results you have visited already and which you haven't.

Example search: [youtube]
With the Search Options panel open and while you're signed in to Google (look for your user name in the upper righthand corner), click on the "Visited Pages" tool. Your results will then show only pages you've visited that contain the term 'YouTube.' Now, click on the tool "Not yet visited" where you will see only pages you haven't yet seen that contain 'YouTube.'

Keeping up with time
The Search Options panel has always helped users search over time, but now there are two new features that help you do this even more flexibly: "Past hour" and "Specific date range."

Example search: [obama]
Click on the "Past hour" link and you'll see all the recent news and web pages published in the past hour on [obama].

Example search: [michael jordan]
Now click on "Specific date range" and try the period surrounding Jordan's last championship (5/1/98 through 7/31/98), and you'll see all the press from the Chicago Bulls' win and various articles covering him that summer.

Personalized Suggest now on Mobile
Finally, here's a fun tidbit that bridges web search on the desktop to web search on mobile. New this week, Google Suggest (the suggested queries that appear below the search box as you type) on your mobile phone is personalized, based on searches from your desktop. This feature only applies when you are signed in to your Google account, and only for searches done while you are signed in. We think this small feature is significant because it enables you to easily migrate your search tasks from the desktop to your phone. It's also one of the first instances in which your desktop search usage can improve your mobile search experience, and vice versa.

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