Google has just announced a new feature for its core search engine that sounds like it will be very helpful: a new kind of related search result that’s based around lists. Starting today, when you run a general query like, say, “Greek philosophers”, Google will actually present a list of top Greek philosophers instead of queries that are simply similar to that one.
Okay, so it isn’t the kind of announcement that’s going to make you scream from the rooftops, but it’s a subtle and important difference. Previously, for the query “american authors” you would have gotten suggested searches including “famous american authors” and “american literature”. Now you’ll also get a list of some of the top American authors themselves: Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and a half-dozen others.
Google’s post says that the feature also works for a variety of other query types, like movies (you’ll get a list of actors). I just ran a query for “Jelly bean flavors” (which was not one of the examples) and got a list that includes Green Apple, Coconut, and Blueberry. Neat.
Google’s post notes that this is actually based in part on Google Squared, the feature it launched in Labs two years ago that presents search results as structured data. At the time Squared seemed overly ambitious (the structured results didn’t seem very reliable), but obviously it’s come a long way.