Google Improves It’s Related Search Feature, Shows Similar Items From A List
By on June 16th, 2011

Often times, you may want to see similar items that closely match with your search criteria.

It’s unlikely that you will remember the names and details of all the items that belong to a group. Let’s quickly take an example to understand how list of searches work.

Say you are researching about American presidentsand want an easy way to find out all the individuals who were previously president of USA. You don’t know the name of any U.S president at all so how do you search anyway?

One example in this case is to head over to Wikipedia or any other website which has a list of all U.S presidents, copy the name from that website, prepare your internal list and then start your research on Google.com.

Google understands that in some situations, it makes perfect sense to show all the items that belong to a particular group. NBA players, American authors, Spielberg movies, you get the idea.

Starting today, you might see a Top Referencessection at the bottom of Google search result pages which is an improvement to how related searches are shown on Google.com. Previously, Google offered search suggestions focusing only on the long tail of search and different keyword variations.   But this feature has been extended to work with lists and items that are part of a subset of queries.

Here is how.

google-related-searches

Previously, users were only shown different keyword and phrase variations of the same search. This is an aggregate data of search queries which closely matches with the queries of other users. Google has extended this feature for specific queries with the Top Referencesfeature which now shows different items from a list.

So if you are searching for American authors, Google thinks that you want a list of American authors and then refine your search deeper. It can happen that you don’t remember the name of John Steinbeck, so Google will now show you all the items that match with your query, so you can just click on the list item and perform long tail searches on your own.

If you click one of these links, the collection of links moves to the top of the results page and results are shown depending on the links you click next.

google-related-searches1

These related searches currently appear in English only on google.com. Google says in a blog post that their search algorithms uses variety of signals to determine the most relevant and accurate items that may be present on a list. These suggestions are shown automatically when Google thinks the user is searching for a specific item that is part of a bigger group. Please note that there is no way to toggle Top Referencessuggestion on Google.com, as you can do with related searchesavailable in the left sidebar.

Some observations:

1. The Top Referencessuggestion is shown only for very very popular queries.

2. Most of these queries are short in nature. Works best with one or two words at maximum.

3. Searching for an individual list item won’t show you the references suggestion. Instead, if you type in the name of the larger group, you are most likely to see similar items of the same list. So if you search for Mark Twain, you won’t see any references suggestion at all. Instead, you have to search for american authorsand the references suggestion should appear.

Google has been quite busy rolling up updates one after another. A few days back they introduced voice search, search with images and Instant pages. We told you that Google is working on a major design overhaul of their search result pages with the URL’s being plastered between the title and description snippet. It looks like their search team is also focusing on user interaction and discoverability of content, not just design, look or feel.

We tried this improvement with some sample queries [Indian cricketers], [nobel prize winners] and [seven wonders of the world]. Try them out and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Author: Amit Banerjee Google Profile for Amit Banerjee
Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee

Amit Banerjee has written and can be contacted at amit@techie-buzz.com.
  • Justin

    In the title, it should be its, not it’s.

 
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