Google to Test How Search Results are Displayed

John Lister's picture

Google is testing two key changes to it search tools. The idea is to make both searching and Search History tools more useful.

The first change is to searches themselves. At the moment, users see a search results page and choose one to click on and visit the page in question. If they don't find the page useful, they'll click the back button and look for another possibility in the results list.

That can be a little fiddly, particularly on some mobile devices where the back option isn't always easy to use. It also makes it even more annoying when a website (against all good design practices) uses technological trickery to try to prevent people leaving the page.

Google is now running an experiment in Chrome OS, the operating system used on Chromebooks. Users who run the experimental "Dev" version will start seeing a split-screen after carrying out a search.

Results Page Split

The results list will be on the left-hand side, while any result they want to explore can open in a panel to the right. Users can then click on any of the results to check out a different page rather than have to go back and forth. (Source:

The other experiment is with the browsing history tool, which Google notes some users like to refer to when following up a previous topic. It's particularly useful when users try to remember a site they visited but didn't bookmark and aren't certain of the site name.

By default, browser history isn't simply shown in chronological order. Google says that can make it less useful to scroll through, particularly if the user was interrupted or distracted by other web activity and searches.

History Grouped By 'Journey'

With the experiment, records of visits to sites on a similar topic will be grouped together in browser history: Google gives the example of somebody looking at pages related to a particular city they plan to visit.

The feature, dubbed "Journeys", is rolling out in the experimental Canary version of the Chrome browser. Users can switch it on or off at any time.

They will also have the option to clear all results from a particular group rather than clear all browsing history. That could be useful, for example, after searching for a birthday present over several days.

Initially the feature will only work for browsing history on a specific device. Depending on how the experiment works, Google may extend it to cover browsing by the same user account across all devices. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Are these features potentially useful? Do you find going back and forth from a search results page irritating? Do you often use browser history and is it easy to find what you are looking for?

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beach.boui's picture

90 percent of the time, I open search results in a new tab. I close the tabs I don't want and keep open the tabs I do want. If I click on a search result and don't get what I'm looking for, I close the new tab, go to the next search result, and so on. Google's solution might be useful for some, but honestly, I don't see what the problem is.

ifopackets_10683's picture

This is solution looking for a problem.
Splitting the screen might make either side harder to read.