A Look At How Google’s Search Layout Affects Video Results

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Well, everyone seems to hate the new Google search results page, except Mark and myself.  It’s kind of a shame.  I mean, I understand someone preferring a more minimalist design, or feeling like the page is too cluttered.  I get that.  But that clutter is so darn valuable! I guess maybe it’s the tinkerer in me.  I like to be able to have as much control as possible.  I’m not always as concerned about the design as I am the information I’m able to access.

With so much hatred for the new look, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the new layout impacts searches that are performed exclusively in the “Videos” genre—that is to say, I wanted to poke around the new Google Video Search and see what’s changed.  Let’s start a horrible screen-cap I took comparing the two results pages–old version on the left, new Google on the right:

Hey, wow.  It kind of looks like Bing, with those filter options on the left side.  What a surprise. Except Bing’s video search also gives me twice as many videos per results page… and also gives me a preview of the videos when I hover over them.  I actually wouldn’t mind Google copying those two features.

Now let’s run down what’s really new with the “new look” of this video search results page.

  • First the obvious… you can’t hide the advanced search options.  They’re permanently on the left side, which is what everyone hates about the overall results page design.  But the filter options themselves are pretty much identical between the two versions.  There is one extra “Any time” filter option by default than there used to be (it’s “Past Month”).
  • The filter links on the left no longer have underlines.  I guess Google thinks the collective Internet is now aware they can click on things that aren’t underlined.  Excellent.
  • The main genre filters at the top of that left sidebar have icons now, and a larger font.
  • The search box is still larger, as it is for normal Google searches on the new design, and the logo is bigger again here as well.
  • The search results themselves are identical. I wasn’t able to find a single query that returned different results.
  • It should be noted that for the “old” Google, I’m using a link I was given to a version of Google that purportedly still uses the old layout.  I haven’t actually seen the real “old video search results” page in over a week, and I didn’t have it memorized before it went offline.  It’s possible that even this “old look” Google link I used is slightly different somehow, but it feels like the old version to me.

And that’s about it.  I was kind of hoping there would be more to talk about, but those are the only real changes of any note.  Ho hum.

I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the more experimental filters from the main results ported over to the video search—like the Wonder Wheel of related topics.  Imagine typing “hockey” in the search box (yes, I’m obsessed with hockey), and seeing the wheel provide branching options like “hockey goals,” “hockey fights,” “hockey checks.”  That could be an interesting way to explore and search for video.

But most of these differences are cosmetic. The video search experience on the “new” Google is less of a drastic change than the one impacting regular Google searches.  These changes will cause nowhere near the outcry we saw there.  Why is this?  Because I think video hounds are already used to filters on the left sidebar—or filters in general.  YouTube (and, to an extent, Google Video Search) has somehow trained us to accept and use filters when we’re looking for a particular video—which is kind of funny, since it was YouTube’s horrible search capabilities in the early days that drove me to use filters in the first place.

Another fair question to ask might be this:  How many of you even use Google for video search? I certainly do, but I know plenty of coworkers and peers who do not.  How many of you are part of the flock that makes YouTube the second-most-searched site on the Internet, bypassing Google and heading straight to the source?  Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Oh, there is one more thing I noticed in my testing.  The new Google is apparently faster.  I don’t know, maybe it was a fluke, but see for yourself (again, old Google on the left, new on the right):

It’s nearly twice as fast, at least for the phrase “football.”


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