Google has made a radical change to their search results last week. They announced a new way to present search results from the web, images, books, local and news verticals on one page: the universal search. My first thought: yeah, makes sense to do that. Second thought: does sound very similar to what other search engines have already done. And, after testing the universal search: but what if I just want webpages?
Let’s start with my first thought. The enormous amount of search verticals that Google currently offers (listed here) indeed requires a new method to return the most relevant results from different verticals. Average Google-searchers will not be aware of the verticals and need to be assisted in their search. Integrating the vertical-results on the web search sounds like a good plan.
It often surprises me how extensively new Google features are covered in the press and blogosphere. This universal search for example, is very similar to Yahoo’s Alpha, Ask’s X and Microsoft’s Imagine-Live. Even the dutch search engine ilse.nl (where I work for) already merges news, local and image results with the webresults. It’s interesting to see that it’s only big news when Google launches a new feature:
Thirth, when I perform a search I usually know where the answer can most likely be found. When I’m looking for an image, I will directly go to an image search engine. Answers for technical questions can most likely be found in a forum or discussion group, so I would perform a search for webpages. For these specific queries, I don’t want Google to merge video’s and local results through the webresults. Unfortunately, there is no option to turn this off. Google has actually replaced the websearch with universal search (they only forgot to rename the tab from ‘web’ to ‘universe’). The average user will probably only benefit from this, but advanced users like to be in control. So Google, please give me back my websearch!