The evolution of search in six minutes

11/28/11 | 8:07:00 AM

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This summer we posted a video that takes a peek under the hood of search, sharing the methodology behind search ranking and evaluation. Through this methodology, we make roughly 500 improvements to search in a typical year. As we often discuss, that’s a lot of change, and it can be hard to make sense of it all.

Following up on our last video, we wanted to share with you a short history of the evolution of search, highlighting some of the most important milestones from the past decade—and a taste of what’s coming next.

Our goal is to get you to the answer you’re looking for faster and faster, creating a nearly seamless connection between your questions and the information you seek. That means you don’t generally need to know about the latest search feature in order to take advantage of it— simply type into the box as usual and find the answers you’re looking for.

However, for those of you looking to deepen your understanding of how search has evolved, the video highlights some important trends:

  • Universal Results: With Universal Search—which returns results like images, videos, and news, in addition to webpages—we’re helping you find all different kinds of information in the same place. We’ve continued to make search more comprehensive, enabling you to find products, places, patents, books, maps and more.
  • Quick Answers: Today on Google you’ll find more than just a list of links to websites. You’ll find Quick Answers at the top of the page for a wide variety of topics, including flight times, sports scores, weather and dozens more. As our technology gets better, we’re beginning to answer harder questions for you, right on the search results page.
  • The Future of Search: We’ve also been focused on developing faster ways to search and save time, whether we’re shaving seconds off searches with Google Instant or helping you search from your phone with Voice Search. Searching should be as easy as thinking, and the future looks bright!

As part of making the video we also created a timeline of search features. It’s not the first timeline we’ve done, but I think this one does a nice job of categorizing the different kinds of Universal Results and Quick Answers we’ve added over the years:
The timeline depicts the approximate dates when we launched particular search feature enhancements. You can also download a larger image by following this link.
It’s been exciting to be part of the evolution of search over the past decade, and we’re thrilled about what’s in store next. If the past is any indication, we don’t know what search will look like in 2020, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it looks nothing like it does today.