Google continues to ratchet up its search engine enhancements this week. This may be business as usual for the search engine giant, but search improvements take on greater importance thanks to the emergence of Microsoft's Bing search engine.
To wit, Google today, July 10, added images complement some of the Google Map results it returns. Google has offered maps as part of its Universal Search results for two years, but adding pictures of the places in the maps adds more color to an increasingly broad search palette Google is creating.
What can you do with these images? Clicking on them takes you to the photos layer on Google Maps, where you can see more geotagged photos. Check out the pic for the query Yellowstone National Park.
I've realized Google is trying to make our search experience as multifaceted as possible, but I still get excited to see the integration going on between the different search features. Blogs, pictures, reviews and other items in Google's Universal Search results are all well and good, as well as being table stakes for major search engines today.
However, when you can boost the usefulness of searches using one tool in conjunction with another -- as with pictures linking to Google Maps -- the promise gets greater.
Google also updated its Product Search for mobile applications this week. Google launched Product Search for mobile in April to help users get prices, ratings, reviews and product details from Websites through their mobile phones.
This is a useful tool for shoppers trying to compare products they are looking at in Best Buy or some other store. Rather than putting off the purchase until they can go home and check reviews and ratings online, they can use Google Product Search for mobile to find the info on their Apple iPhones or, Google hopes, their Android devices.
But when it was first launched, Google Product Search for mobile only worked for iPhone and Android G1 users in the United States and the United Kingdom, ignoring users of other mobile phones. In June, Google added Palm Pre support for this service.
Now, all Web devices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and South Korea support the service, Google said. Also, to help U.S. users of Android, iPhone and Pre phones cut down on typing queries, Google added Google Suggest to the Product Search home page and results pages.
Tying Google Maps to Images in Universal Search results and the additional phone support for Google Product Search for mobile follows search enhancements Google made last week to its Blog Search (RSS feeds and hot queries), Book Search (refined search within books) and Mobile Search (available on all device models in over 60 countries and 38 languages).
What does this mean in the broad scheme of things? Maybe not much.
Google is always tweaking its search engine, and Google co-founder Larry Page or Sergey Brin will probably rattle off some lofty statistics about search enhancements made in the second quarter during the company's earnings call next Thursday, July 16.
But the changes Google makes to its search engine seem far more important to me now that Microsoft Bing has emerged to capture the attention of reporter and blogger corps everywhere.
Bing may trail far behind Google in market share, but it is certainly gaining ground on Google in mind share. And mind share eventually leads to market share.
Just ask Google.