The main Google search results now offer a new set of advanced search tools, via a drop-down left-hand sidebar…

Most standard search-modifiers work with these new search types.

Most useful are the real-time and near-time tools. The one I’ll be using all the time is the ability to sort results by the date at which a page was located and indexed by the Google bot. Sadly, a user can’t yet set up an RSS feed from such a search, and thus create a personalised topic-specific “What’s New?” feed from Google. (But try Feedmysearch).

Second most useful is the ability to easily limit your search by time, searching only material from the last day, week or year. This was previously available via the Advanced search, but was fiddly. Now it’s a one-click option, integrated with the search results.

Other useful options allow you to view a custom Google Image search, with the images pulled from your search results, while retaining the search results alongside the images.

‘Wonder Wheel’ is a simple Flash-based ‘topic prompt’, which updates in real-time as you search. I can image that this might be useful for students. However, it could also be useful for quickly showing you which words and terms you don’t want, and thus need to knock out of your results by using the minus sign.

The Timeline is quite impressive — but also potentially dangerous, if students take it at face value and don’t realise that it’s constructed ‘on the fly’ by a bot.

The ability to search through bona fide discussion forums might also be useful for those seeking to track the buzz about their products. This can be combined with an option to search only reviews. Reviews can now be marked up by page authors using open formats, to help search-engines.