Google New Search Features - Rich Snippets, Search Options & more

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Google has launched enhancements in its search engine results pages. The new features have been introduced to reflect some of the trends in search engine user behaviour as well as improving the search relevancy and experience.

Search Options & Spell-Check Features

You have probably noticed the "did you mean" in red when typing a misspell word. Google has actually released two more aggressive features. According to Matt Cutts, the internal name code are spellmeleon and chameleon. Chameleon makes mid-pages suggestions when Google 'think' the user is looking for a more specific search. Spellmeleon is going even further by displaying results of a 'corrected' search query before the results of the original search query (see below).

Spellmeleon search feature

Another very interesting feature especially for the user, is the search option. Many websites already have such feature; it allows categorizing the search results based on a set of criteria such as type, date, price etc. Google has finally implemented the same thing on their SERPs! To access the options, we need to click on the Option link in the blue retangle at the top of the page. Once you have clicked, you should be able to sort content by type (video, review, forum) by date and more.

Google search options

Rich Snippets

One of the most exciting new feature is the use of rich snippets. Traditionally Google listings or snippets only displayed the page title, the meta description and the URL. Then Google introduced SiteLink, SearchWiki. On Tuesday, Google announced the release of rich snippets.
With rich snippets, Google will provide more information on your website directly in the SERPs so that users will know what to expect when clicking on your site. At the moment, Google only support information on Business, People and Reviews.

rich snippets

The rich snippets will be rolled out slowly starting with 'trusted websites' (LinkedIn and Yep), but over time more and more websites would be able to display rich snippets.

To display Rich Snippets, Google rely on microformats and RDFs, that any website owner can add to their code. This will involve a bit of work, but it could be worth it as Google estimate the rich-snippets should increase the click-through rate.

For more detailed information on the technical side of rich snippets, read the Google Webmaster blog post