Thursday, 26 March 2009

Google tests more text with each snippet

Daniel Tunkelang has brought my attention to another blog entry about some of the tests that Google is carrying out at the moment. As well as letting you view timelines, and a 'wonder wheel' of connections, the options it lets you test include adding thumbnails to each search result (something that has been doing for a while) and also allowing you to see more than 2 lines of text per result.

This last point is the one that seems rather interesting to me. I've heard many a search engine representative talk about getting as many results as possible above the fold (the point where you'd have to scroll to keep reading), and getting the best trade off, therefore, between context and space. Tim Paek et al, at Microsoft Research, studied the idea of flexible snippet lengths back at CHI2004. Its been a long time coming. I proposed back at a SIGIR workshop in 2007 that we just let people choose the size of the each snippet in the preferences, and see how often people change it - and to what? Maybe now we'll see.

Interestingly, in IEEE Computer in March 2009, Daniel Russell, of Google, wrote an article saying that, for some research, only big corporations with thousands of processors and millions of users can really test small UI changes, among many other things. Well I'm glad that Google is testing this - and I hope we see some results from it too.

1 comment:

private villas bali said...

I really like what Google is doing. It might be making our job as SEOs a little more difficult, but it's creating a better environment for users of the search engine itself.
I'm re-designing my site and I'm basing a lot of stuff on the new changes Google is making to it's system to try and keep up to date a little better. Particularly stuff like it's support for hash tags, having a more solid navigation structure and more interesting content. Hopefully it'll help me get more conversions on my website than before. Really starting to feel the crunch now. Great article!