New enhancements of AOL Search include:
** An updated design that moves away from a tabbed interface to provide users with a more directed and personalized search experience.
** A new sorting and “clustering” feature that helps users find exactly what they are looking for more quickly and efficiently. AOL has licensed clustering technology from Vivisimo, which automatically organizes relevant search results by topics and displays them alongside the list of general Web search results. This approach saves users from having to wade through long lists so they can zero in on more specific results and find exactly what they’re searching for. AOL Search is the first major search engine to incorporate clustering technology within its search results.
** An innovative AOL SmartBox suggestion tool that automatically presents relevant choices to help instantly narrow a query even before users press the “Search” button. The SmartBox tool helps users refine and clarify their search, increasing the accuracy of their results. For example, typing in the word “eagles” into the AOL Search query box presents the opportunity for users to hone their search to “The Eagles” (the band), “The Philadelphia Eagles” (football team), or “Eagles” (the bird). AOL Search will also display a user’s most recent searches to save time when they want to look up the same searches again.
** A new layer of results called “Snapshots” appears at the top of search results and presents editorial content and relevant information for a wide range of topics from local movie showtimes and sports stats to current events. Snapshots results, which draw from AOL’s large network of content and Web brands, include member ratings for local businesses, restaurants and other points of interest. Also available are quick tools such as a calculator, currency converter, “find a flight” from AOL Travel, and “find a restaurant” from AOL CityGuide. There are now more than 2.5 million AOL(r) Snapshots programmed packages provided for as many as 20 percent of all AOL Search queries. AOL Search integrates locally relevant search results for cities across the U.S. and draws from AOL’s leading local services including AOL CityGuide, AOL Yellow Pages, and the MapQuest and Moviefone services.
** Integrated shopping search results provide users with an easy and convenient way to purchase products they’re looking for or to easily access Pinpoint Shopping’s database of more than 25 million products where users can also narrow products by category, brand, price, store name and merchant rating.
** As part of America Online’s ongoing commitment to ensure usability of AOL products and services by people with disabilities, the new AOL Search offers the ability to adjust font sizes and improved compatibility with screen reader software used by the blind.
Coming soon, AOL Search will further expand its Local Search capabilities with a greater diversity of features, based on a new algorithm, giving users an even more comprehensive and convenient way to find information where they live, work and travel. America Online is working with Fast Search & Transfer, Inc. (FAST), a leading provider of search technology and solutions, to enhance its expanded local search services and results customized to users’ geographic locations.