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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. }


  1. I just saw this and posted a cached version here.

    1. Thanks
      Downloaded and created desktop shortcut to it.Works fine.
      Hate the new advanced search page - tiny grey lettering on acres of empty space.Did Google get an interior designer to revamp their page?I need a useful tool not a throw rug.

  2. Wow. I'm among those who do use the advanced search page, once I load it. It contains several useful ways to refine search. I just _love_ it when searching/checking for news before checking/writing new contents on my site.
    So, please, please, please: renew it, refurbish it, give it a cleaner, more 2.0 look, do whatever you want but do NOT reduce ANY of its current functionality. I know you work to enhance it but sometimes temptation to simplify is strong when it comes to think to users majority, who is usually mid-low skilled. There is always another 50% of users - including me - very happy of using it as it is.
    All the best!

  3. To Google: Stop rearranging the user interface and layout of things. Stop making millions of people re-learn a layout just because you thinks it's cuter or prettier. Learn the meaning of the words consistency and familiarity.

  4. Sorting by date is not an "obscure feature." And now it's way down the page

  5. I have used Google Advanced Search for a long time as my homepage. I thought it was not loading properly when I first saw it. Got to say I hate it and time is not making it look beter. Google, can we have the option to use the old layout... Please.

  6. If you use the English version of the Advanced Search Page you will likely see the new version:

    If you´d rather revert to the old version you could try to look for some of the more obscure languages to see just for how long the old page will remain...

  7. I still don't see the new design, even though I tried different data centers, proxies, parameters and other tricks.

  8. It's live at and other international Google sites.

  9. Some observations:

    * the search boxes are way too big, compared to Google's regular search boxes.
    * Google could have organized the page better, maybe using two columns.
    * the topic-specific search engines from the bottom should be removed or better integrated into the page.
    * the search button should be more visible and.

  10. Tried the new advanced google search. Once the google search button is pressed, the page reverts back to the non advanced search page.

  11. See it here in Boulder, CO.

    Advanced Google Search has been my home page for YEARS. I do extensive detailed searches and hate the new version. I need everything on one concise page allowing more than 3 "OR" options. This does not cut it.

    Is there any way to revert to the "old" version? I don't see a URL for that page.

  12. I think the new simplified google advanced search is a step backwards. I hate having to hit the "more" link for the rest of the options I want.

    Also, it is frustrating to have to relearn where to look for the options I want. They used up more screen real estate to do less. Thumbs down Google!

  13. Darn! Frankly, I feel cheated ... and I wonder, if 50% of users find the original page too daunting, why the rest of us 50% who love it must be dragged along with them to a lower grade. Those overwhelmed 50% can just use the simple main-page search, can't they?!

    I've used the advanced-search page as my home page for years. Looks like I'll need to find a new one; this won't cut it.

  14. I exclusively use advanced search for a whole lot of research. I dont hate the new version, I DESPISE it. Especially, horrific is when it doesn't work and reverts to the non-advanced page. I guess its time for another search engine.

  15. I want my old advanced search back! The new design is a step backwards and I HATE it. Why can't we have the option of choosing the interface? I'm currently using the German version which still has the good old design. If that gets redesigned, then it's back to Alta Vista!

  16. it sucks. At least give a link to the old css

  17. I hate it too. Having what I'm typing being typed in at the top distracts and annoys me.

  18. "Google's Daniel Russell said that 50% of the people who open the advanced search page leave it without completing the search."

    Maybe they didn't know the meaning of the word ADVANCED.

  19. I much prefer the old Advanced Search version. I used it exclusively for research. It worked extremely well and allowed the user to access accurate information and isolate nonsense, especially for scientific research. I don't see much point in accessing the new page at all. Did you see the movie "Idiocracy"? The new advanced search is a step in that direction. If people found the old one too complicated, how can they possibly get results with the new one? Smarten up. Revert to the old page and don't try to replace the wheel with a square block. Does anyone read these grievences?
    Posted by Ivan Jardine, New Brunswick, Ca.


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