Search Options: Google adds more intuitive search tools, ‘takes on Twitter’

It’s often said that Twitter’s big advantage over Google is its ability to allow you to conduct ‘real time search’ – if an event is happening right now, you don’t search Google, you search Twitter.

But today Google has announced a series of features that, while still not offering real time search, take it just that bit closer. For me it is the most significant change to Google’s core service in years. 

Here’s the video:

This week, while talking to my students about the ability to search by date in Google, the computer assisted reporting blogger Murray Dick mentioned how unreliable the feature was, so I wouldn’t get too excited. 

What is new, however, is the ‘recent search’ facility, which brings up results from the past hour or two.

Perhaps most significantly, the intuitive nature of the controls makes it much easier to find relevant information – and has obvious uses if you are a journalist only interested in recent reports. I tried it with an event I attended today and the results were clearly better than a generic search.

The ‘Timeline’ feature is particularly useful – you can now drill down to a specific period, allowing you to do the opposite – rule out recent reports – if, for example, you’re looking for background on someone currently in the news.

Also useful is the horrendously multicoloured ‘Wonder Wheel’ which will generate related terms that you can browse through.

So, a search for ‘Paul Bradshaw’ brings up online journalism, journalism blog, Press Gazette and Birmingham City University – an obvious way to get an overview of the areas and companies a person is connected with, and drill down to information about those. 

‘More text’ will give expanded descriptions of results; you can choose to include images from the pages; and it is easier to switch to searches of video, forums and reviews. 

Also worth noting is that Google appear to now be supporting microformats: this means you can filter reviews by sentiment, and more easily disambiguate people in searches. 

It also means you should be looking at using microformats for your own content, of course… 

If you can see any other applications of Search Options, or find any features I’ve not spotted, let me know.

UPDATE: TechCrunch compare Google’s performance against Twitter Search, FriendFeed, OneRiot, Tweetmeme and Scoopler (which I love) in this real-time search-off.

UPDATE 2: ZDNet spots the addition of public comments on search results. Very interesting.

5 thoughts on “Search Options: Google adds more intuitive search tools, ‘takes on Twitter’

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  2. Alex Lockwood

    Paul, over in San Francisco the engine http://www.OneRiot.com has been championing real time search, including Twitter searches, and getting some good press. Would be interesting to see your evaluation of a comparison between Google’s new tools and what OneRiot does.

    Reply
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  4. paulbradshaw

    Thanks – I tried OneRiot a few weeks back and wasn’t very impressed. It seems better now, but not a Twitter-killer. I am much more impressed, however, with Scoopler, which pulls in tweets and multimedia in a much more intuitive way.

    Reply
  5. Murray Dick

    Hi Paul,

    Just to qualify a couple of things I said on Monday.

    I should have said that my distrust of timeliness in Google is based primarily on experiences with Google Scholar, and to a lesser extent with older (ie not breaking news) content on Google.

    I imagine that news- and blog-based content (which often includes metadata which states at what date/time a news article was published online) will probably be more reliable in any search engine, than the often much older content featured in in any search platform (this is important in Google Scholar especially because relying on references older than 10 years old is a major no-no in some social sciences).

    Secondly, RE: caching, I have just discovered (contrary to some research I did last year, and what I said on Monday) that apparently some content in The Daily Express IS available via Google’s and Yahoo’s cache option. Which came as a bit of a surprise, I must say!

    RE: the new options in Google – I’ve experimented with a couple of these options before while they were available in Beta in Google Labs with some great results (the timelines especially caught my eye) and I’ve tried a couple of things that threw up some interesting things tonight.

    The first thing I would say is,that timeliness in some of these new options is not universal. It doesn’t seem possible, for example, to switch between sorting Video results by relevence and by timeliness – a serious problem for any BJ looking to see what the competition are broadcasting throughout the day.

    If you run a search on any term, and then select the Video option you (obviously) get videos from around the web which fit the bill. If however, you then select the ‘sort by date option’ while looking at these results, you are basically turfed out of Video results, and back to general results.

    It is possible to see on Truveo what is going on in breaking news terms (albeit it only allows a general overview of what’s being broadcast – you can’t search) using a specific function – and that’s something that Google should definately be looking at:

    http://slewfootsnoop.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/truveo-browse-breaking-uk-tv-news-in-one-place/

    In relation to the Forums option, I would strongly suggest UK journalists combine an advanced search with their searches here.

    If, for example, you run a search on expenses and select the Forums option, you get a wide spread of results, some of which include international comment (which is fair enough – not all UK commenters comment on UK-domained forums, and likewise there are forums which deal in UK issues which are not UK-domained).

    However, to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to go into the Advanced Google search and select United Kingodom from the Region option, then run the search again.

    BTW – RE: Scoopler, I have to say I share your enthusiam for this engine early on – it looks great, and I’m going to look at it in more detail in the coming days.

    Reply

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