Google Labs is the proud father of a new graduate search tool.
Called Google Suggest, the software provides users suggestions for search queries from the home page as they type queries in.
The tool uses data about the overall popularity of various searches to help rank the refinements it offers. Think of it as the “Did you mean?” feature, but in real time from your search bar.
I tested it out first with a search for “Microsoft.” When I typed “M” the first suggestion to pop up, interestingly, was MySpace.
When I got to “Mic,” Michael Phelps was the first suggestion and by the way, next to the keyword in the drop-down search bar, it tells you how many results for each query. That’s 5.28 million results for Gold medal monster swimmer Phelps.
When I got to “Micr,” Google search realized, hey, he’s gotta be looking for Microsoft, so the software company’s name appeared as the first suggestion in the list of 10 keywords and phrases associated with Microsoft. Second was “Microsoft Office,” followed by “Microsoft Word.”
Google Suggest is smarter than you think, though. Borrowing the “Did you mean?” utility from the company’s search engine, Suggest offers users queries they may have been looking for but misspelled. I type “Pennsilvania” and the first suggested query was “Pennsylvania.”
So far, so good. You can also type in quotes and lyrics and Google Suggest will fill in the rest of the phrase, line or sentence for you. For example, I typed in “To be,” and the first suggestion that came up was the entire Shakespeare line, “To be or not to be.”
Of course, Google Suggest also leverages auto-complete technology based on remembering keystrokes.
Google Suggest is one of a number of search improvements Google is working on in and out of its Labs experimental research group.
The tool started as a 20 percent project in 2004, but has expanded to Google Labs, Toolbar, Firefox search box, Maps and Web Search for select countries, the iPhone and BlackBerry, YouTube, and now Google.com, Google Product Manager Jennifer Liu noted in a blog post Aug. 25.
Suggest works only in English for now, and Google said in its FAQ it’s not sure when it will roll it out to additional languages.