RealTime IT News

Google Refines Search in Latest Tweak

Search options in Google are getting yet another refinement aimed at providing users with results more finely attuned to their needs.

The No. 1 search player now offers nine more Search Options filters -- including date ranges and options for more or fewer e-commerce sites. Search Options are found in the "show options" link, in the lightly shaded blue bar above the search results.

As a result, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) now enables users to choose among the following: past hour, specific date range, more shopping sites, fewer shopping sites, visited pages, not yet visited, books, blogs and news.

"We hope you get a chance to try out these powerful new ways to refine your search results. Please visit our help center to learn more about Search Options and leave us feedback. And stay tuned for more!" Google product manager Nundu Janakiram and software engineer Patrick Riley said in a blog post explaining the new filters.

The newly added filters come on the heels of a flurry of tweaks by Google to both its regular Internet search and mobile platforms -- and if Janakiram and Riley's words are any indication, there could be further enhancements on the way.

In the past few days, Google integrated trends and forum posts into search results and unveiled a revamped local search and desktop search history sync for mobile.

There's been some speculation by industry watchers that the tech behemoth has become anxious over Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) new search engine, Bing, which had been making small but steady gains in market share, and over the software colossus's new partnership with rival Yahoo.

Yet developments this week may help Google relax a bit about the fortunes of its newest rival. Web analytics firm StatCounter yesterday said that Bing had failed to show an incremental gain for the first time since launching in June, slipping more than a point in the search engine rankings in September.

A slew of analytics firms have been tracking Bing's slow but upward progress since it debuted, but most of its advances have come at the expense of Yahoo to date -- not Google.

This time, however, Google was the beneficiary of Bing's losses as well as Yahoo's continued slide. Google's share of the market grew by more than two points from 77.83 percent in August to 80.08 percent in September, StatCounter said.

For Microsoft and Yahoo, that's an especially distressing development, considering the deal that the two giants struck in late July -- in which Bing would power Yahoo's search in return for a cut of the revenue -- aimed to better position both against Google.

Still, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer continues fueling the rivalry with Google, telling an audience in a June that he's backing Bing for the long haul and will spend billions to ensure it does not fail.

Ballmer, speaking at the Executives' Club of Chicago, said at the time he is willing to spend between 5 percent and 10 percent of Microsoft's operating income for the next five years to make its search business successful.