On the heels of some major search improvements earlier this week, Google has announced another round of search-related updates today – this time to its “related search” feature. On the surface, these changes are simply meant to make the display of related queries much easier for users to navigate.
Starting today, if you perform a search on a particular category, Google will display some of the most popular and referenced items within that category. It will also include the three top sources of this information.
When you click through one of these “related search” links, that collection of links will move to the top of the results page, with your results listed below. These most popular references will then stay anchored to the top of your search results, making it easier to navigate to the other highly referenced items without having to hit the back button.
The improvements here aren’t just about suggested links in broad categories. Google also says that, if applicable, related searches will display images. If you search for an artist like Van Gogh, for example, a selection of his artwork will show up at the bottom of the page. Similarly, if you search for a film, the related search will include cast members.
On the front-end, this should make finding related material easier for users. And behind the scenes, the technology isn’t entirely new. Google has accomplished this with its Google Squared technology, something it introduced into Google Labs in 2009. Google explains the process as such:
“To better understand and answer your searches for a list, we use a variety of signals to assess what the web collectively thinks are the most significant items associated with your search keywords. Since Plato is discussed so frequently in pages about Greek philosophers, our algorithms can infer that he is an important Greek philosopher.”
As this work is based on common search patterns and is another example where Google’s algorithms try to predict what it is we’re actually looking for (or at least what Google thinks we should be looking for).