Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A small change to Google

It’s a small change – but Google’s making a big thing out of it.
You may have noticed, last time you visited Google, that the size of the search box has increased. There again, you may not have noticed: it’s quite a subliminal tweak, and, as search is, by its very nature, a means to an end, you may have had something else on your mind.
There was never any limit to how many words you could fit into that little Google search box, but it’s longer now, so you can see more at once.
So what is the point? Well, Google is trying to sell it as a way of emphasising that Search is their primary and most important product, despite their diversification into so many other areas.
Champions of accessibility and usability might hail it as a welcome step too: larger fields and larger buttons are easier to see, locate, and use.
Ultimately, I suppose, it’s a design tweak, and one we’ll all get used to. Where Google leads, others often follow, so watch this space for larger search fields across the other major search engines – and other websites.

Google domestic trends

If you’re in the selling business, Google’s Domestic Trends reports should interest you.
They are based on the idea that search data can inform us about the purchasing intentions of the populace. If people are searching for terms like ‘jewellery’, ‘perfume’ or ‘Tiffanys’, then we may assume that the luxury goods market is buoyant, the economy on the up. It’s much the same train of thought that led Google to claim it might predict a flu epidemic by aggregating the number of searches for ‘flu symptoms’ and similar.
On the other hand, if searches for ‘do it yourself’, ‘jobs’ or ‘unsecured loans’ are on the up, then we may all be in trouble – except, of course, for DIY stores, employment agencies and loan firms.
At the moment, the data refers to searches on, and primarily reflects habits in the USA – but we’ve seen most other Google services unroll to other countries, so I’d think we can expect a UK version in the near future. This free tool might just become one of the strongest at your disposal.

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