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March 6, 2008

Google Redesigns the Advanced Search Page

Google's advanced search page contrasts with the simplicity of the homepage and the search results pages. Most people don't even notice the small link placed next to the search box and those who click on it find the page too confusing. Google's Daniel Russell said that 50% of the people who open the advanced search page leave it without completing the search. This is not surprising if you look at the page: you can choose the language of the search results, the formats, the usage rights, but also add numeric ranges and negative keywords to a query. The most useful features can also be accessed using operators, while the others aren't grouped intuitively. Other issues with Google's advanced search page: the search button is not placed at the bottom and the generated URL is unnecessarily long as it contains all the parameters.

According to some reports, the page has been redesigned and it now hides some of the obscure features inside a plusbox, while offering tips and a preview of the query:

The update is still being tested and it's likely you don't see it yet at:

For the time being, I suggest to use the advanced search for the option hidden in the expandable box (date, keyword location), while using the search operators for the other options. Some example of queries that use operators:

* paris -hilton site:edu (all the pages that contain Paris, but not Hilton and are from .edu sites)
* "women's rights" (all the pages from Wikipedia that contain the exact text "women's rights")
* shakespeare inurl:hamlet filetype:pdf (all PDF results that contain Shakespeare and have Hamlet in the URL)

For the average user, the new page is more approachable, but Google's challenge is to provide good results even if you don't refine the query using operators and advanced operators.

{ The second screenshot has been licensed as Creative Commons by Barry Schwartz. }

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