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Google Labs Cooks Up New Recipes For Web Wandering

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Google has revealed an array of new search tools — Search Options, Wonder Wheel, Rich Snippets, and Google Squared — that enable users to combine options for displaying and studying results that go beyond the traditional listing or relevance ranking paradigm. The Search Options Panel and the Wonder Wheel are currently available.

The Search Options Panel lets users refine, filter, and review their results in various ways on the same search page. The Wonder Wheel configures key words from the standard results in a circular chart, and results can be expanded and data visualized in a new way by clicking on different links in the chart. With Rich Snippets, Webmasters can annotate their sites with metadata explaining the content, and Google's Nundu Janakiram says the company's support of open standards means that Webmasters who tag their sites can have them interpreted no matter what crawler is used. Google Squared will arrange search results in rows and columns automatically in a spreadsheet-like format.

"What's really cool [about these features] is that the core search experience doesn't change," Janakiram says. "Users still get the same list of results. Now they can slice and dice the results in more meaningful ways to them." Saber Seven CTO Jim Anderson says that Google's enhancements would benefit the search industry in general because they provide users with a wider-ranging perspective of the information they are seeking as well as easier filtering tools. However, he notes that users will still have to use accurate search terms.

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