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February 21, 2007

Plus Box - a New Way to Look at Search Results

The snippet displayed in the search results pages is important because it shows some excerpts from the web page that have your search terms and helps you decide if the result is OK for you. But Google could show you much more about a site.

Google added some time ago an expandable box (called PlusBox or ManyBox) next to search results connected to local businesses. Now they're experimenting with a Finance Plus Box, that shows financial information next to the homepage of a business listed on a stock exchange.

But this is only the beginning. Unlike OneBoxes that are query-dependent and are displayed at the top of the search results, a Plus Box is added next to a search result, regardless of the query. Plus Boxes show information from different Google services that are highly relevant to a site.

If you consider the case of a local business, it's clear that many people want the address of the business and how to get there. If you search for "oil company", it's nice to see additional information about companies, like the stock quote.

Google also experimented with a Plus Box that shows facts from a site and also a search box that lets you search inside the site.

In another experiment, Google showed related blog posts and important pages from the site:

Other Plus Boxes that should be available in the weeks to come:

* a Google Scholar Plus Box that shows information about scholar papers: the abstract, the number or quotes, the number of pages and links to Google Scholar.

* a Google Video / YouTube Plus Box that shows a small player where you can preview a video inside the search results.

This is a unique feature and Google will continue to add Plus Boxes for different kinds of sites. The universal search engine is closer.


  1. Does anyone have any idea how Google adds these PlusBox to search results? Does Google collects the navigation data from users and determine which are the most relevant items? Does Google Toolbar help with this? I would welcome the idea of PlusBox as it really takes a lot of time browsing here and there before I get the information I really want, now I can preview them before needing to wait for the page to really load.

  2. For the maps Plus Box the info is taken from Google Local. If you want to add information about your business, Google tells you how to do it.

    For Google Finance Plus Box, they already have information about stocks and companies. If you search for YHOO in Google Finance, you'll see a lot of stuff about Yahoo, including their homepage. To get that data in the search results, Google treats it backwards.

    So most of the web pages are associated with a lot of information in Google's specialized searches. Plus Boxes only make the connection between the site/page and that information.

    For example, this is a blog. Google could show the latest posts, or related information from other blogs next to "Google Operating System" in the search results.