Google launched two new improvements to its core search engine on March 24.
The two upgrades include an expanded list of useful related searches and longer search result descriptions.
Yahoo and other search engines have been introducing several rounds of innovative features over the past few months, perhaps pressuring Google to create new features in order to retain its search engine market-share lead. On March 12, Yahoo announced new features for SearchMonkey that would allow search results to be enhanced with flash video, games and slides.
In order to provide an expanded list of useful related searches, or the hyperlinked terms that appear at the top or bottom of the search page under "Searches related to [your initial query]," Google has started employing algorithms that "better understand associations and concepts," allowing for an increased number of relevant and refined hits. This aspect of Google Search now supports 37 languages.
For example, if you searched for "Red Hat," your related searches would include "linux," "unix," "download linux," and the like - not the terms you originally inputted, but results that Google feels may have relevance to what you're looking for.
Google is also including longer snippets beneath each search result, giving the user a more in-depth summary of the page behind each hyperlink. This expanded snippet will also highlight the words from your search query in bold, showing how they appear within the context of the linked page.
"When you enter a longer query, with more than three words, regular-length snippets may not give you enough information and context," Ori Allon, technical lead of Google's Search Quality Team, and Ken Wilder, snippets team engineer, wrote on the official Google blog. "In these situations, we now increase the number of lines in the snippet to provide more information and show more of the words you typed in the context of the page."
Google has recently expanded other parts of its business, as well.
On March 19, Google and Sony announced that Google would make some 600,000 free public-domain eBooks available through the Sony Reader, increasing competitive pressure on Amazon and its new Kindle 2 eBook reader, which has a library of 245,000 titles.
Earlier in the month, Google also faced some controversy over its use of interest-based advertising. Privacy advocates say Google's "online behavioral targeting" collects excessive amounts of user data, while Google has countered by citing that users have granular control over what information the search engine collects.