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Google improves search with new tools

See more information in snippets

Google has unveiled two tools that it hopes will help users pick and choose the relevant information from search results.

"As people get more sophisticated at search they are coming to us to solve more complex problems," said Marissa Mayer, vice president of Google's Search Products, in a blog.

"To stay on top of this, we have spent a lot of time looking at how we can better understand the wide range of information that's on the web and quickly connect people to just the nuggets they need at that moment. We want to help our users find more useful information, and do more useful things with it."

One of the features announced is Search Options, which is a collection of tools designed to let users better "slice and dice" their search results so they can manipulate the information they're getting. Mayer said the tools should help people who struggle with what exactly what query they should pose.

"Let's say you are looking for forum discussions about a specific product, but are most interested in ones that have taken place more recently," she said.

"That's not an easy query to formulate, but with Search Options you can search for the product's name, apply the option to filter out anything but forum sites, and then apply an option to only see results from the past week."

In that same vein, Google also is adding more information to its results snippets - those little pieces of text that tell you about the site that's been pulled up. If you're searching for a hotel, for example, the snippet won't just tell you the name of the hotel and where it is - now it could tell you its price range, number of stars in customer reviews and the number of reviews listed.

Google can't make that information available on its own, though. The company is asking web site authors to add microformats or RDFa standards, both of which are geared to allow information, like contact data, to be automatically processed by software.

The company also showed off a preview of a tool it is calling Google Squared.

This tool, unlike most search engines, doesn't pull up web pages that hold information about the search query. Instead, it pulls up information from different sites and presents it in an organised manner.

Google Squared is set to be released to users as part of its Google Labs program later this month.

"These features really explore search from a broad and entirely new perspective," said Mayer. "Because we realise that when you can't quickly find just the exact information or content you need or want, it's our problem, not yours."


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