Unofficially obsessed with Google.


Googlewhacking Shows Confusion in Google's Redesign

3/25/2006 11:33:00 PM
Over in Google Blogoscoped, I found the trick to set my computer's cookie to load the Google test layout that is currently circulating to random IPs. Thanks to Kickboy who wrote in with clues about the workings of this cookie several weeks back.

Q. What do the green bars mean?

The biggest thing to note in the experimental redesign is the appearance of green bar graphs for each of the major Google search types on the left sidebar of the SERPs. Because the metric of these bar graphs is not given, I set up a quick test to see if I could figure it out.

A. Number of Results

My first thought was that the graphs were meant to depict the number of search results available in each search product for the given query. So if the bar was almost fully green for Images and almost fully grey for Groups, you would instantly know that it was almost pointless to check your query in a Groups Search as there were almost no results available in that area. To test this, I hunted for a recent googlewhack ("speedwriter clockwork" via googlewhack.com) that would provide easy to work with results numbers, and then compared the numbers of types of search results to the graphs in the left sidebar. Here's a screenshot of the search results page:



And here are the numbers of results for "speedwriter clockwork" for each of the search types:

1 Web
0 Images
1 Groups
0 News
0 Froogle
0 Local
0 Scholar

As you can see, no results were retrieved in Images, News, Froogle, Local, or Scholar despite the green bar graphs on the SERP having prominent green areas. I find it a bit deceiving (or perhaps just inconvenient), that the green bar would even begin to suggest existing results in these categories if clicking over to those categories shows absolutely nothing. To make sure I hadn't hit a wonky query (which certainly googlewhacks can be argued to be), I tried a few more terms. Each experiment showed similarly: the proportions for actually available search results varied greatly from the proportional usefulness suggested by the green bars. So much for that idea.

A. Relevancy

With my initial hypothesis disproven, my next suggestion is that perhaps these green bars are meant to suggest comparative relevancy of the different masses of results? But if that's true, then low traffic terms need some adjustment. For the googlewhack example above, search relevancy should be nil for categories for which there are no results.

A. Something else

So what are the green bars, then? Search results numbers and search relevancy seem to be out (though maybe this feature is still error-ridden enough to throw us off).

What other thoughts are people having about the meaning behind the bar graphs?

13 Comments:

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Possibly something to do with pagerank? They use similar greenbars to display pagerank on their toolbars.

Just a thought.
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