Technology & Science

Google revamps search offerings

Google Inc. on Wednesday said it was combining its internet search offerings into a single "universal search."

Google Inc. on Wednesday said it was combining its internet search offerings into a single "universal search."

The new universal search on Wednesday merged search results from multiple Google services such as its web, image, news, map, video and book search engines, with further services to be folded into it.

"With universal search, we're attempting to break down the walls that traditionally separated our various search properties and integrate the vast amounts of information available into one simple set of search results," Marissa Mayer, vice-president of Google search products and user experience, wrote in a post to the Google blog.

Until now, the online search giant has offered separate versions of its top-ranked search engine to users seeking specific information in a bid to improve the relevance of search results.

For example, a person looking for information about the Star Wars film series might enter a search for the character "Darth Vader." In the past, the main Google search page would have simply listed sites and documents that referenced Darth Vader. The new universal searchfinds search results in different categories — images, websites, news, forum discussions and more — and lists them on the same results page. The aimis to makeit easier for the user to find the specific content they seek.

In a separate blog post, David Bailey and Johanna Wright, who work on Google's universal search team, described the challenges of unifying search results in a meaningful way.

"It's a tall order to earn placement at the top of our search results, so plenty often we end up not showing these kinds of results even when they might be useful," they wrote.

"One challenge was being able to regularly search through all of the additional content types to find relevant results. After all, you don't know if there might be a minor news story or an obscure book relevant to your query unless you go and check."

Google has also redesigned its search page as part of its universal search effort. The site now features links to other Google search tools and services such as its Gmail web-based e-mail in a universal navigation bar at the top of the web page. The links were previously found above the text entry field on the main Google search page.