Google tests search page redesign

Search technology which gives more contextualised results could raise the spectre of more legal action from content providers

Google is believed to be testing a redesigned search page that will provide even more accurate and comprehensive search results than the search giant currently supplies.

According to screenshots obtained by tech news site Cybernet this week, the new search page design will display a picture alongside text results, a feature already used on Google News. There will also be a search box that enables users to run a query against a specific site, a service which is currently only available through use of the site: operator.

Google had not confirmed at the time of writing whether the new search pages would run using the Orion search engine. Orion is an algorithm developed by a 26-year-old Israeli doctoral student, Ori Allon

When a user conducts a Web search using Orion, they receive expanded text extracts from the pages that it delivers, rather than just links to these pages. This means the user doesn't need to click on multiple pages when searching for information, or leave the search engine to view other pages.

But doubts have been raised as to whether content publishers would take kindly to Google displaying more content in its search, especially if users needn't navigate away from Google to view that content.

Google is already embroiled in various lawsuits with organisations alleging copyright infringement. Agence France-Presse filed a suit against Google earlier this year, claiming that Google News' offering its photos and stories without permission amounted to copyright infringement. Adult entertainment site Perfect 10 was granted an injunction in February against reproduction of its images of "beautiful natural women", which Google is appealing against.

The Google test is being conducted amongst a small sample of its users to "evaluate better ways to search," a Google spokeswoman told PC Advisor.

Allon was headhunted by Google earlier this month. Reportedly, Google paid an "undisclosed sum" to the University of New South Wales to secure Allon's services. He is now working at Google's offices in the US after reportedly turning down offers from Yahoo and Microsoft.