Google Squared – is it any good?

Since its launch last week, Google’s new search tool Google Squared has received mixed reviews. If you’ve still not got round to trying it out, Google’s new plaything takes a user’s search query and presents results in tabular form, very similar to a spreadsheet. This allows for the collaboration and comparison of varying aspects of your search results. Goodness, sounds confusing doesn’t it?! Why not take a look at the screenshots below to help iron things out…

I decided to do a search for “hotel brighton uk” and Google Squared presented me with the following results:

So, as you can see, a search for “hotel brighton uk” returns a range of columns including a list of hotels in Brighton by name, an image, a description, address, ambiance as well as a column for amenities. I guess Google thought these were the most relevant aspects in which to break the results down into. I’m surprised by Google’s choice of column characteristics; there’s a column for “ambiance” but no column for price or contact telephone numbers (but I guess this is why the tool is still in beta!).

However, there is the option for the user to create additional columns to house extra information about each listing. So, for this example I decided to add a column to provide me with contact phone numbers for each listing:

One interesting thing I noticed when the phone numbers appeared was that for the Royal Albion Hotel the phone number is a third party number from an external website selling room availability in the hotel. So it seems Google decided to display this number rather than the number supplied in the hotel’s local business listing on Google. Does this mean Local Business Listings are not treated with great importance by Google itself?! It’s certainly food for thought…and maybe a completely separate discussion for another blog post!

I also noticed that if Google cannot locate an image for the hotel another image is displayed. For example, an image could not be found for Grand Hotel so an image of Brighton beach has been displayed…close enough? Not quite. But I guess this is why Google Squared is still in Beta…there are a lot of creases to iron out! Another being that if I add a further column for price or room tariff the results are in no way accurate! Apparently a room in Drakes hotel will only set me back $9.99…bargain, I’ll take it! It seems there’s work that needs to be done on Google’s ability to understand and compile required information when a user adds their own column to the grid.

Ultimately, sites can help Google with its difficulties in compiling relevant, useful information by making the content on their sites easily accessible to Google spiders so it can be deemed useful and relevant for this tool. Sites can also ensure their images are properly optimised so Google can easily identify those images most appropriate to search queries and results.

I reckon Google Squared has great potential to become a really useful tool with which to compare a range of features with regards to a particular search query. Let’s just hope the folks at Google continue to fine tune it so users can be confident the results they view are accurate!

I’d be interested to hear of other people’s experiences with Google Squared; are there any particular searches which have provided accurate results? Do you think you would use it as a comparison tool once it has been polished up by Google? Answers on a postcard please…or save on stamps and post your comments below 😉

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