October 2, 2009

Google Rolls Out New Search Features

On Thursday, Internet monolith Google unveiled a freshly-tweaked version of their search engine that allows users to limit their online searches to serve up only the most up-to-date hits or those falling within a specified date range.  Meanwhile, Microsoft's "intuitive" search engine Bing continues to gain users slowly but steadily since its release in May.

Indeed, the battle for dominion of the Web has never before been so heated.

Concerning Google's new time-sensitive capabilities, company engineer Patrick Riley and product manager Nundu Janakiram wrote in a recent blog post, "This can be particularly helpful when you're looking for the freshest information, or, if you have some idea of when the information you're looking for may have been published to the Web."

The new Google functions will also let users choose what kinds of search results to display, whether blogs, news sites or Web sites, as well Web pages that they have or haven't visited.

"This can be particularly helpful when you're researching something you've already explored and you want to return right where you left off," explained Riley and Janakiram.

The two explained that to use the new options, users simply have to sign in to their Google Account and enable their Web History.

The new Search options can then be located on a side panel that Google engineers added to search result pages this May.  In order to use the tools, users just have to click the "show options" link found above the search results.

And what of Microsoft's attempt to challenge Google's Web hegemony with its now five-month-old search engine Bing?

In August, the US software giant posted a third straight month of modest gains for its engine's share in the US market.  According to comScore, Bing's share rose to 9.3 percent in August, up almost a half a percent point over July and nearly a full point above its June figures.

Microsoft has described Bing as a "Decision Engine" that was created to intuitively understand what users are looking for in the Web and was specifically designed to help online shoppers find the most relevant search results, whether searching for clothing, insurance companies or vacation packages.

For the time being, however, Google remains the undisputed Web champion, commanding nearly 65 percent of the total market of Internet advertising.  Yahoo! comes in a distant second, with a smaller but relatively stable 19.3 percent.

In late July, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced a 10-year agreement in which they will team-up to take on Google's seemingly impregnable domination of the highly lucrative market for web search engines.

Microsoft has also begun incorporating "tweets" from the most-followed Twitter users into its search results.  Company spokesmen have described the experimental coupling of Bing and Twitter as "an initial foray into integrating more real time data into our search results."

Many industry analysts consider real-time Web message services"”of which Twitter is the pioneer"”as the next big thing in Internet technology.  If this is true, the first search engine to figure out a way to organize and display this information in a way that pleases an increasingly Web-savvy user base may find itself with an enviable competitive advantage.


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