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Monday, November 12, 2007

Google Images Introduces Related Queries

Google’s image search in the US (append the parameter “&gl=us” to result URLs if you’re not in the US) now offers an “Also try: ...” feature on top of results. For instance, entering cologne suggests “cologne bottle”. Another example: ibm results in “ibm logo”. (German results in “german flag” – Finnish in “finnish girl”.) I’m not quite sure how new this feature is. [Update: Ben Allen in the forum writes he “had this feature for weeks."]

This suggestion does not pop up on just any search, but apparently only those where the Google engineer algo determines it as relevant for image search. The suggestions are also not the same as the ones appearing in the footer of some web searches; e.g. cologne in default web search suggests things such as “how to use cologne”, “cologne airport”, “amsterdam” and more (but not “cologne bottle”). Maybe an image suggestion is triggered due to a high proportion of people amending their search query “cologne” – after realizing it results in too many unwanted pics – to then look for a picture of a “cologne bottle”. Or maybe Google just checks for word matches, realizing that a relatively high number of people who use the word “cologne” in image search used it in the query “cologne bottle”.

Other search engines also sometimes make use of related search queries – in fact, this feature is often declared to be the “Google-killing” feature of a new or underdog search engine. However, other search engines also often display it more undifferentiated (triggering it for almost any query) or push it higher up in the display area. USA, for instance, upon entering cologne, in their left-hand navigation bar display queries like “Cologne, Germany”, “Men’s Cologne”, “Curve Cologne”, or “Perfume”. Yahoo in their web search results, right on top, suggest to you to also look for “men’s cologne”, “diesel cologne” and so on (and Yahoo’s recently introduced expandable search assistant widget offers even more suggestions). In a nutshell, it seems that Google by its interface tradition tries to err on the side of unclutteredness, whereas some others prefer to offer more immediately visible helper goodies in results.

[Via Google OS -> Googlified. Thanks Sohil!]


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