CAMBRIDGE -- Online seekers take note: If you type "Cape Cod" into the Google search box, links for "Martha's Vineyard" and "Nantucket" now pop up on the bottom of the search page.
Internet search provider Google Inc. today added two features to its web search function to help people find what they're looking for more easily. One offers relevant phrases related to queries, the other longer snippets of text for more complicated searches.
Google executives unveiled the search refinements at the company's research and development office here. While the company frequently tinkers with its "secret sauce," the algorithm that organizes search results based on relevance and importance, changes that are visible to search engine users have been much rarer.
"We want to keep the search page relatively uncluttered," said Adam Lasnik, search evangelist for the Mountain View, Calif., company. "But these new features are useful and important."
Google searches now make associations based on the meaning of words, and post on the bottom of its search results pages key phrases related to the query. If someone searches for "principles of physics," for example, related phrases ranging from "special relativity" to "big bang" will be listed for people interested in those terms.
Lengthier snippets will be returned to provide better context when users type out longer or more complex search terms. The query "spice market review shrimp starter dessert," for instance, will yield three or four lines of text from restaurant reviews under the search result's headline, rather than just a line or two of text for most shorter queries.
"They're constantly testing stuff," said search engine consultant Eric Enge, president of Stone Temple Consulting in Southborough. "It increases the likelihood people will get the results they want. A lot of people aren't very intelligent about how they search. They might search for 'Red Sox,' but what they really want to know is the current game score." (By Robert Weisman, Globe staff)