Google Launches Search Engine Suggestions

Nearly four years in development, Google today finally rolled out its Search Suggestions product to the main page of Google.com. Suggest started as a 20% project and was launched on Google Labs in December 2004. The feature “graduates” from Labs and will be rolled out to users over the next week or so (I can’t see it yet on Google Australia).

Since launching the project on Labs 4 years ago, Google has launched the search suggest service slowly on some of its other services including the Toolbar, Firefox search box, and YouTube. What took Google so long in bringing it to the homepage? According to Search Engine Land: quality control. “Quality is very important to us, and since so many people visit the Google.com homepage, we wanted to make sure to evaluate and refine our algorithms to provide a good experience using Google Suggest,” a Google rep told SEL.

Search suggestions is actually an area where Google lags behind the competition. A few other search engines had search suggestions when Google began their Suggest project in 2004, and Yahoo! rolled out a major upgrade to their search suggestions, called Search Assist, about a year ago. Yahoo!’s product is actually arguably still a bit more complete than Google’s offering.

Google’s tool works by looking at popularity metrics for the term you appear to be typing, and other terms containing that keyword. Yahoo!’s service does a search in the background for the term you’re typing and pulls out related terms from the first 20 pages of results. Yahoo! also suggests terms based on related concepts — i.e., suggestions that don’t necessarily contain the exact term you were searching. For example, a search for “Batman,” might also suggest searches for “The Dark Knight,” “The Joker,” or “Gotham City.”

Search suggest tools are useful, though, so we’re happy that Google has finally decided to graduate theirs from Labs. As Google product manager Jennifer Liu noted in a blog post today, search suggestions can save searchers time, reduce spelling errors, and help you drill down your searching to more specific and accurate queries.

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  • =jason

    It’s about time for this Google. I can’t imagine that this was so difficult to bring to the masses a long time ago. Compared to the other search technology developments, this seems like it would have been a piece of cake. No? Polling on this issue at tinycrunch.com

  • Simon

    Any chance of a link to the actual google and yahoo functions in the article. Think that will save readers a bit of searching.

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Simon: Yahoo!’s Search Assist is live on the Yahoo.com homepage, Google’s Suggest should be live to everyone on Google.com by Friday.

  • Tim

    How long before you can pay for position in the suggest listing?

  • keith5885

    @Tim

    I was thinking the same exact thing. Watch they will be highlighted yellow options at the top you have to go through before getting to the others…

    Overall… somewhat useful… somewhat distracting if you ask me. I will see if it grows on me.