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Doing the SearchMash

Recently, Google rolled a new user interface test bed, SearchMash, and it is worth checking out. You won't see the Google brand anywhere on the front page or the search results, but rest assured that, under the hood, the Google engine is purring.

You have almost all the search functionality of the regular Google web search; phrase searching works, as do the usual Boolean operators, and format and field limiters, although there is no advanced search page on SearchMash. And don't look for any sponsored links; there is no advertising on this beta search site.

But what sets it apart is the search results page. For starters, SearchMash sorts the results into web pages, images, blogs, videos, and Wikipedia entries, all on one screen. The first ten web pages are displayed in a somewhat abbreviated format:

Saugerties Garlic Festival - The Garlic Festival is a two day event held on Saturday & Sunday, the last full weekend in September, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. [...]

Note that the search result displays the domain of the retrieved page, but not the specific URL for that page (in this example, the retrieved page is This actually simplifies the work of skimming search results for relevant sites. Interestingly, there is an option for an even briefer display -- just the page's title and domain.

Although the search results do not show the full URL, SearchMash offers a cool tool for drilling down into any of the retrieved web sites. Click on the linked domain in the search results page and SearchMash executes a search of that entire domain for your search terms. So, for example, if I clicked the link from the example above, SearchMash will execute a search on garlic festival

This is a more useful tool than it first appears. Experienced searchers know that one of the limitations of a search engine is that it only displays a few web pages from any domain, even if many web pages from that domain match the search criteria. By using SearchMash, you can expand your search within a relevant domain without having to retype your query.

As mentioned above, one of the search results page features I find tremendously valuable is the clustering of results from the "rest" of the Google index – images, blogs, and videos – and from Wikipedia. Each of these clusters can be viewed by clicking on a + next to the category; the default is to see six thumbnails of images and videos, and three blog and Wikipedia entries. If you click any of the video images, the image expands and you can view the video from within the search results page.

And I am delighted to see that SearchMash finally has something close to MSN Live Search's "infinite scroll." SearchMash's version isn't as smooth as Live Search, but it's not bad. When you click the "Next" link at the bottom of a SearchMash search results page, you see not only the next set of pages but the previous set as well. So, you can review the first 10 results, click "Next", and now you have a page that has the first 20 results. Click "Next" again, and now there are 30 results, and so on.

As a beta site, SearchMash may change over time, so check it out and see if you find it as useful as I have.

Source: BatesInfoTip newsletter - May 2007 - SearchMash

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