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Google revamps results lay-out
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Google may be known as one of the dominant online forces but yesterday the search group participated in a bit of catch-up.

The US group introduced changes to its results page that brought it in line with navigation elements already employed by its main rivals.

Mainly cosmetic, the most visible change will be the automatic inclusion of a navigation panel on the left of the screen with tools for refining the results by content type, such as videos, images or books. Similar lay-outs are already employed by Bing, Yahoo and Ask, making Google a relative latecomer to what has become a standard design for the search engines on the web.

"The reality is that they're the last of the major search engines to implement this kind of design," said Danny Sullivan, of Search Engine Land. "This is the new look of search going forward - with this left-hand panel."

The changes include a new logo and a redesigned search results page that incorporates a number of subtle features aimed at improving the results of the 88bn searches it performs each month

Such filtering mechanisms were already a few clicks away on Google but they will now appear by default.

"For Google it's a big thing because it's a huge change to their search results page," said Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. "It will affect everyone who uses Google."

Bing, the revamped Microsoft search engine introduced last year, has gained share for 10 consecutive months, according to comScore. Bing attracted 11.7 per cent of US searches in March, while Yahoo held 16.9 per cent.

Google remained the clear leader with 65.1 per cent, a slight dip from the previous month, but the group said it was not influenced by its rivals. "We try not to focus on the competition," said Nundu Janakiram a product manager at Google who worked on the design overhaul. "We start and end with the users."

The left-hand panel will also include suggestions for "something different". Unlike previous suggestions offered by Google, which, for example, refined a search for "Rolling Stones" to "Rolling Stones albums" or "Rolling Stones songs", the new suggestions will offer terms such as "Pink Floyd" or "The Clash".

Another feature will let users filter search results based on time. So for a hot topic, such as the volcanic eruption in Iceland, users would be able to refine their search to content posted online within the past 24 hours or past few days.

FT
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