Google Experimental Search Explained

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 31, 2011
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Google, Search

Did you know that Google has a labs-like feature for Google Search? Labs-like feature, what was that again? The Google Chrome browser, Google Mail and other Google products offer experimental features to all users. Google is sometimes unsure if a feature should be fully integrated into their product, which is why they are offering them as experimental features to all users to test the feature.

My guess is that they monitor usage and other metrics to aid them in the decision whether to add the feature to the Google service.

Google Experimental Search, that's the name of the labs-like feature for Search, is currently offering three different features of which only one can be active at any time.

You need to be logged in to your Google account and visit the Google Experimental Search page afterwards to add one of the features to your account.

You can add a feature to your account with a click on the Join this experiment button next to the feature title.

google search experiments

Available for selection are the following three features:

+1 button: The +1 feature was revealed yesterday, and you can take a look at our initial coverage of the Google +1 button here. The feature will be enabled shortly on, and later this year on other localized Google Search properties. Users who join the search experiment can use the +1 button right away.

google +1

+1 is basically a social recommendation service that will be used by Google as one of their search engine ranking signals. Your Google Contacts will furthermore see your recommendations if they make related or the same searches.

Why do not you +1 Ghacks if you enable that feature by following this link:

Keyboard shortcuts: The second experimental feature adds six keyboard shortcuts to Google Search.

The j and k keys select the next or previous result, o or enter open the selected result, / puts the cursor in the search box and Esc removes the cursor from the search box.

You basically go up and down with the j and k keys and press enter or o to load a search result. You can append the parameter esrch=BetaShortcuts to search results to enable keyboard shortcuts on that page, for instance:

google keyboard search

Accessible View: The third and final experimental feature combines keyboard shortcuts with improved accessibility of search results. It offers a similar set of keys to navigate the search results, plus additional shortcuts. This includes i or h to move between categories, = and- to magnify and shrink items, a to switch to Accessible search results and w to switch back to the standard results view.

This feature is only compatible with the Firefox web browser for now, according to Google's experimental search page.

You can test drive the feature by visiting this link.

google accesibility

Have you tried any of the experimental search features? If so, what is your impression of the ones you tried?


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