To the left side of each cluster, you’ll see how many blogs discussed this story recently, and the way this is formatted may remind you of sites like social news Digg. It would be interesting to know if Google gives more weight to popular or high-PageRanked blogs here. At the far left there’s a navigation, again similar to Google News, which offers several topic categories like Politics, Technology, Movies, and even Video Games. As opposed to Google News though, search results are still unclustered as they were.
Perhaps not incidentally, the Google Blog Search redesign is the top story on sort-of-competitor Techmeme: “Google Blogsearch Relaunches as Techmeme Killer, Across 11 Categories”, the headline reads. Whether or not Blog Search will be killing anyone anytime soon, its redesign does make the homepage more useful to those who want to do more than just search (I wonder though if it results-style formatting might make some people think they’re on a result page already, not the homepage, which could add minor usability confusion).
Besides that, it’s also interesting to see Google hasn’t forgotten this project; it was rather quiet around Blog Search during the years after its release in 2005. Whether the new clusters hold up in quality with sites like Techmeme may remain to be seen in everyday usage.
Now, the new rollout might perhaps even more useful if the clustering would extend to certain broad-topic search results. And I’m not sure if they fixed another problem they had in the past: their backlinks checker – enter e.g. link:example.com/archive/2008-08-08/foo.html to find pointers to a given post – used to work OK, but then started missing very important links a while ago, rendering it almost unusable for some blogs. (This was almost reminiscent of Technorati.com, a blog search engine that managed to become less useful over time, not more.) When it still worked, it was useful to grab the RSS feed of a backlinks search and display it as a kind of lazy trackback below a blog post’s comments.
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