Battling Microsoft, Google adds more options to search

Google looks to give users more tools to help better slice and dice search results

With Microsoft Corp.'s frontal attack on Google Inc. with its well-received Bing search engine, Google moved today to keep its huge lead in the business by adding some shiny, new tools.

Google released nine new Search Options tools today, giving users more ways to manipulate their search results and get down to what they're really looking for, according to Nundu Janakiram, a Google product manager, and Patrick Riley, a software engineer, in a blog post.

The Web company first released Google Search Options in May. The product is a collection of tools designed to let users better "slice and dice" search results so they can massage the information they're getting. The tool should help people who struggle to decide exactly which query they should pose.

Initially, the tool included options to narrow the search down by filtering out anything but forum sites, for instance, or only seeing results from the past week.

Today, Google expanded the options to further narrow results to information posted in the past hour, from visited pages or from not yet visited pages. The new tools can also limit searches to books, blogs and/or news sites. The tools also let users expand or narrow the number of shopping sites they receive results from.

"With these tools you can choose to see only the most recent results in our index, or see results from a specific time period," wrote Janakiram and Riley. "This can be particularly helpful when you're looking for the freshest information, or if you have some idea of when the information you're looking for may have been published to the web."

The new Google features come as Bing, Microsoft's overhauled search engine, starts slowly gaining ground in the search market. Last month, Nielsen Co. reported that Bing's share of the search market grew by 22.1% from 9% in July to 10.7% in August. That performance made Bing the fastest growing search engine in Nielsen's top 10 list.

Microsoft has been busy beefing up Bing in hopes that it will eventually give Google a run for its money.

Earlier this week, Microsoft released a beta version of a tool called Visual Search, which is designed to let Bing users search through galleries of images instead of mainly text. Visual Search met with applause from some analysts.

And in another shot at Google, Microsoft this summer agreed to enter into a partnership with Yahoo, which will let Bing power its sites. The proposed alliance -- which still must pass antitrust muster -- could give the two companies some much-needed leverage in their ongoing battle against Google.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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