Maybe it has something to do with competition from Bing, but all of a sudden Google is really interested in guided search. Last May, it launched search options in the left-hand column of the results page which let you filter results by type, time, and other criteria. Today, Google is adding a new set of options geared at making results more timely, newsy, and personal. It also lets you filter out commercial results when you are not in a shopping mood.
The new options include the ability to see results from only the past hour (that’s so near-realtime) or for a specific date range. You can also filter for results only from news, blog, or book search. (Basically, these options bring some of Google’s standalone search verticals into the main search experience).
Then there’s the spam filter. You can “fewer shopping sites” or “more shopping sites.” When you choose more shopping sites, product prices appear up top. And if you are trying to go back to something you’ve already seen but can’t remember exactly where it was, you can personalize results by seeing only sites you’ve already visited. Or you can choose to only see new sites, and make the search more of a discovery tool. (You need to be signed in and have Web History enabled for these last two options to work).
Most searches on Bing also bring up a set of guided options on the left. But whereas Google is choosing to apply a set of search options consistently across all queries, Bing takes more of customized approach based on what you are searching for. For instance, it usually shows related searches to your query and lets you filter by type of search as well (shopping, local, image, video). The search options change on the fly depending on the search.
Which approach do you like better—consistent categories (Google) or customized categories (Bing)?