Over at Google, they have some new(er) features on their search engine that were rolled out this year. Some of them, like the Limit Search to Past Year feature and limiting search results to specific date range, I’ve been using since the day they came out. Others, like the different search "Views" (Related Searched, Wonder Wheel, Timeline) and the ability to add More shopping sites, or list Fewer shopping sites, have gone mostly unnoticed and unused by me.
This morning, however, I was playing around with some of these new Google search options. (Kudos, to Google, by the way, for carefully choosing the way the offer these additional features. Instead of calling them "advanced" or something like that, they are simply called "more options." That makes them much more likely to be checked out and used by non-techie search engine users.) One of the particularly interesting "More Options" that Google now has is the Wonder Wheel.
Google Wonder Wheel, Related Searches, and Suggested Searches
The Wonder Wheel is basically a visual representation of the Related Searches function, which is sort of an extension of the Suggested Searches that has been a feature on the main Google search page for some time now. As you type in your search, the search program tries to guess what it is you might be searching for based on the words you have already entered. This not only saves some potential typing, but it also generates phrases and keywords that are more likely to lead to successful search engine results instead of those far corners of the Internet where ad-filled junk pages await to ambush visitors.
For example, if you are wondering about the latest ADHD medications, you might go to Google.com intending to type in add drugs or something similar. However, as you type in the words, suggestions appear below the search box. Sometimes, this is very helpful, and sometimes not, depending upon what exactly you are searching for. In this case, it is likely to be very useful provided you were looking for something more specific than you intended to type.
- a) the official name is actually ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and
- b) "add" can actually have a lot of meanings (addition, acronyms, etc…)
Furthermore, if you were looking for specific information, such as updates about the side effects of ADHD medications, the suggestion will get you to the data you were looking for faster, because you won’t have to sort through all of the webpages that, while about ADD drugs, are not necessarily about their potential side effects.
The Wonder Wheel takes off on this concept by not just showing you longer phrases that might be what you are looking for based upon being an exact match for what you have already typed in, plus additional words or letters, but by displaying related searches that might be more relevant to what you are looking for. Or, more importantly for doing in-depth research or analysis, related topics or searches that might have valuable information about what you are really looking for. This avoids the problem caused when you are searching based on what makes sense to you, but might not match up quite right with the information you are looking for.
Use Google Wonder Wheel to Find More Related Information
When you type a search term into Google and then select More Options –> Wonder Wheel, what you get is a graphical view of other search phrases that might be related to what you are searching for. This image is essentially a "wheel" composed of your original search as the hub, with "spokes" going out to each related search. Depending upon the initial search, there can be a lot of spokes, or just a few.
The best part is that each related spoke can also be clicked on. When you click on one of the related spoke links, the wheel moves with the related topic you clicked on becoming the center of the main wheel and the original wheel and spokes dropping into a secondary place. You can keep repeating this process to get closer and closer to the data you want.
If you start going in the wrong direction you can click on previous wheels. Although only the immediately preceding wheel and spokes are visible, previous hubs are represented by a series of disappearing circles. Each of these circles can be clicked to bring back up that wheel. So, if you know you want to go back three wheels, you can just click the 3rd circle. If you aren’t sure which one you want, hovering the mouse over a circle pops up the name of the search in the center of the hub.
It works remarkably well for numerous topics. It is especially useful for topics you don’t know much about. For example, if you want to search for a Christmas toy for a youngster and you know they want something like a robot hamster, you can search for robot hamster toy, and then use the wheels until you get to the specific Zsu Zsu Hamster thing that is Hot Toy for Christmas 2009. (No, I don’t get it either.)
However, using it to look at topics related to ADHD-ADD is depressing. Results showing "related" searches linked to some of the more unfortunate mental illnesses can lead people with little ADD experience into making some unfounded conclusions about their relationship to ADHD. Even worse, is that no matter how many links on the Wonder Wheel you click, ADHD solutions never appear. There are no links displayed that go to ADHD organization tricks or to ADHD tips for time management or even an ADD exercises. You can’t even get to the ubiquitous ADD Coaching that is so promoted within the community. Instead, you can go off and find out about bipolar disorder. Sigh.
I think that this one seems pretty reasonable. Certainly these would be the most likely concerns of such searches.
This one is unfortunate. Looking for tips to manage ADHD? Well, instead, how about suggestions linking ADHD to bipolar disorder and OCD? Maybe, boosting the ADDer’s
self-esteem would be helpful? Hmm…I don’t think those suggestions are making me feel any better.
It isn’t anything to get bent out of shape about, and I know that the nature of Internet searching is that Google search rankings are necessarily geared toward the lowest common denominator of knowledge, but it would be nice to see such a powerful tool at least be able to point toward one or two "positive" websites about ADHD.
Maybe as awareness grows and the fad-ishness of ADD continues to fade, there will be less demand for all things alarmist and conspiracy, and more demand for the answers to ADHD’s challenges. Until then, keep coming back here, or grab the Addessories RSS Feed to have the latest updates come directly to you.