Google Search to highlight “In-Depth” articles on results page

Google has announced a new feature that showcases In-depth articles on it’s search results page. This in-depth articles are long-form stories which help users learn about topics in a deeper way.

For example users are searching for “censorship” then some very in-depth articles on censorship will be highlighted as seen in the image below.

In_depth_articles_Google

So why are In-Depth articles important?

The problem sometimes with search in the era of breaking news and developing stories is that in-depth and well researched articles hardly show up in search results at the top.

Most well researched and long articles usually get traction on social media more than Google search results unless they are very specific like tutorials and guides.

Google will pick up signals like the reputation of the website and also the author thanks to “Google Authorship” meta data that can be added to the articles. The in-depth article results will be ranked algorithmically.

Google will be churning out this feature over a few days, so you might see these in-depth articles in search results over the next few days.

‘Google Now’ is available on iPhone and iPad

Until today, Google Now was only available one Android but today it goes live on iOS. If you are using Google Search app on your iPhone or iPad, you only have to update the app. The Google Now feature will be updated onto your Google Search app.

Google Now basically taps into your data from various services like Gmail, Google Maps, Google+, Google Places, your search history and more. This information is then used to serve you with useful reminders and prompts.You might need change your privacy settings to allow your iPhone or iPad to let the Google app access your location data.

Google Now iOS

This is indicative that Google Now might soon be coming to our desktops thanks to it being integrated with Chrome or even Google’s homepage. We might see more such updates from Google in the run-up to its annual Google I/O conference.

If you have an iPhone or a iPad try out Google Now on it and drop in your comments.

Link: Google Now on App Store

Google Enables Search Filter for Animated GIF Images

Remember all those weird animated images (usually .gif format) which are often funny and got a new lease of life on Google+ for a while? It seems Google wants users to be able to search more easily for animated images. A new update that is rolling out on Google search, allows a new option in image search. Just under Images on Google Search, and look up under Type and a new filter called “Animated” is made available.

Google Animated Images

The animated images shown are mainly GIF format images. Earlier if you had to search for animated images, users had to use a search operator filetype: (Read about most commonly used search operators on Google).

Though I assume there would be significantly more people using the new search filter than there were who used a search query like “filetype:GIF India”.

The new search filter actually might end up being useful as a traffic generator for some websites. There are always useful things that can be illustrated or explained using GIF images. Also looking at my social networking feeds I am guessing there still must be a lot of people searching of animated cat images or something similar.

Do drop in your comments.

Winners and Losers of Google’s New Image Search Design

Google will soon start rolling out a new Image search layout for desktop browsers. This will firstly make the experience of looking up images on tablets platforms and desktop browsers uniform. This actually leverages the current redesign of Google’s search options showing up at the top instead of on the side.

Here is the new format that we all will start seeing in the near future for Google Images

Google_Image_Search_NewDesign

The images will be shown inline and navigation by using keyboard will make looking up results a lot simpler.

Winners and Losers

Google will show the full sized images inline instead of displaying the image against a whitened backdrop of the original page. That was actually impacting the server load as it showed up ‘ghost’ visits to websites. This ideally would not be very harmful for blogs and similar websites but sites known for storing public photos might find this a better deal.

But that does not mean everyone will be happy with this change. If you clicked on a small image, it took you to a page where the image is from. This is a great way for many websites get a lot of visitors to their own domains. Google is trying to appease their concerns by making the domain name clickable and also display a button to visit the original page.

That said from a user experience point of view, this change is for the better.

Have you seen this new format for Google Search for Images? Do drop in your comments.

(via Google Webmaster Blog)

Get Official Google Search and Chrome App for Windows 8

Yesterday I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8 Pro. It was a painless installation. Windows 8 offers users to option to retain their previous settings from Windows 7 or do a clean install.

I like using Chrome and use Google and related services a lot. Windows 8 is a Microsoft product and so its not surprising that I see Bing and IE icons / tiles at the start screen.

Thankfully Google has introduced a quick simple way for users to download and install Google Search and Chrome on their start screen.

How it works:

  • Once you are on the start screen visit the Get Your Google Back page with Internet Explorer.
  • The first install is Google. It installs a cool Google app on the platform. It can be used for voice search and also if you choose to sign-in with your Google account, can help you access all your important Google services like Google+, Reader, Gmail, Map and more.
  • The best feature of it was looking up my search history which can be explored.
  • The next link at the site is to download Chrome from the Windows 8 Store.
  • The first thing I did after downloading Chrome was to make it my default.

Finally now I have my Google shortcuts on my Windows 8 Start Screen. Try it out if you are a heavy Google and Chrome user and have recently upgraded to Windows 8.

These apps works only on Windows 8 platform and not on the Windows RT versions.

Link: Get your Google Back (Windows 8)

Google Testing Horizontal Search Options on Search Results Page

Google search options are very useful if you want to refine the search. Most people who use Google tend to ignore the various search options on the left-hand column.

This is how Google search results page looks at the moment.

Today, I came across a new design by Google for its search results page. The options on the left hand column were neatly tucked away at the top, above the results.

This new change seems to mimic the way Google search results show up on mobile or tablet browsers.

I liked the new horizontal bar showing the search options, because it makes it easy to access. Usually in the long left-hand column format, the options show up one after another and that means users have to scroll up or down to get to navigate and choose different options.

This new design seems to be a lot more intuitive.

Have you seen your Google search queries showing up in such a design? Did you like the new horizontal search options design? Do drop in your comments.

Google Knowledge Graph: Sign of Getting Back to Basics!

Google is making changes to search results. No, these are not algorithm changes to improve the search results which usually only SEO experts and website owners care about. :-)

This is a more visual change that shows more intelligently linked results. As seen in the image below, people using Google.com and using English, will see in depth information on certain search queries.

  • The knowledge graph shows some basic information and most importantly links to what other people search for.
  • This is a lot like related links but stuff people are actually searching for.

Here is a video of Google explaining the knowledge graph.

Is Google getting back to basics?

The search tool is a refreshing new feature thought up by Google. Google has brought out some interesting search tools like Google Realtime (which it has discontinued), Wonderwheel and Flight search. But lately it was obsessed with only social integration across all its web services. I personally have never found social search as particularly helpful.

Maybe with Google’s Knowledge Graph it is getting back to basics and concentrating on serving up more helpful search options and tools for users. That said it might make the search result page look cluttered.

What do you think about Google’s Knowledge Graph? Do drop in your comments

Link: Google’s Knowledge Graph

Enable Google’s Account Acitivty Reports!

Google has recently updated it’s privacy policy. That exercise was to create a single privacy policy instead of 60 different ones. I personally found it to be a good idea. Google was accepting that it did collect data and was using it across services. This was probably its worst kept secret so being more transparent about it made sense.

Today, Google has introduced a new service called account activity. This basically puts together a report on your Google account’s usage across its various services.

  • Visit this link and verify your Google account. Even if you are signed into Gmail, it will still ask for verification as pre-cautionary measure.
  • When you receive the link to the account activity report, go ahead and check out your report.
  • I got some interesting information on how many emails I sent or received in a month or how many people viewed videos I had uploaded on YouTube.

I do not use Google Search when I am signed into my account, so I guess that is why it does not show search related details for the month. Otherwise it is supposed to show details regarding your search queries too.

It also gives a quick idea of which platforms and browsers were used to access your Google account. This can be handy to catch suspicious activity on your Google account.

Do drop in your comments.

Link: Google Account Activity

[Search+] Google Wants to Blur the Line Between Search and Social

A few months ago when Google+ was introduced to the world, I managed to get an invite and within 24 hours I was a Google+ fan. I liked the layout, the options regarding privacy. I felt it has real potential as Google starts to integrate some of its popular products into its new social network. I was left with one lingering doubt about Google+. What was it doing that Facebook did not do?

The answer to that question has been answered in the form of Search+. This is a new option for people searching on Google, to be able to get more personalized results.

Search_Plus_Google

You will be able to see options to toggle between personal and normal search results on Google with a single click. This change will be rolled out for everyone over the next couple of days.

Google+ will be heavily leveraged as posts and photos will show up along with related pages, profiles and probably latest updates on that topic by Google+ connections.

Google+ has been promoted by integrating it on Gmail and Google Reader. But the big fish for Google has always been search and now with its integration into Google+ might just give Google’s social network a big booster shot it needs.

Here is a video of the new feature rolled out on Google Search:

If I search for a friend on Google, usually I do get results for LinkedIn profile or a Twitter account and even Facebook. All that might change in the future with Google+ being pushed forward a lot more in Google results. This might be a great idea of Google but it might cause some headaches to Twitter and LinkedIn.

What are your views about social search in general and personalized search in Google in particular? Do drop in your comments.

Google Demotes Official Chrome Landing Page in Search Results

Chrome_new_logoGoogle has managed to shoot itself in the foot thanks to someone in the company thinking that it was a great idea to have paid posts for Chrome. Google has aggressively promoted its browser Chrome, across television, print and internet media. A recent look at the search query “this post is sponsored by Google Chrome” gives thousands of results.

This lead to questions about the practice of Google Chrome was buying links from bloggers to promote the landing page to download Chrome with a link. This practice is discouraged by Google itself.

Ideally the paid link should have had the NoFollow tag that indicates to Google it was a paid link.

Matt Cutts the head of Google web spam team, put out a post explaining the action Google would be taking. In a quote, Cutts explains the action that Google Web Spam team will take against paid links by Google Chrome.

In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days..

If you now search for the query ‘Browser’ or ‘Chrome’ the landing page for Chrome does not show up in the first few results at all. I decided to check the best query for the landing page to show up first which was ‘Download Google Chrome’.

Chrome_results

Yes, even if Google has demoted a link to their landing page, they have promoted with an sponsored link.

Will it have an impact on Chrome?

No. Chrome is already a very popular browser and it might have a small impact on the number of downloads. Anyways if the download link still shows up as a sponsored link so that might not really impact its downloads.

This will probably add to the confusion over how and when one should use nofollow tags on links.

On the other hand, I am glad to see Google own up to its mistake and be transparent about what has happened instead for trying to cover up (which usually end up in further embarrassments).

What are your views on Google Chrome’s landing page getting demoted? Do drop in your comments.