In Google's apparently lemming like attempt to throw as much search functionality away as they can, they have now revamped their advanced search page. Regular readers will recall that I wrote about Google making it harder to find, and now they're reducing the available options. The screen is now following the usual grey/white/read design, but to refresh your memory, this is what it used to look like:
And this is what the new version looks like:
It takes up a lot more space - the country/region listing is much more spaced out - previously I could just scroll straight to the bottom to pick the UK option, but now I have to scroll to the bottom and then back up a little bit. However, it's a personal choice - you like it or you don't.
The important point is that Google has removed two options that relate to page specific tools, and these were to allow searchers to find similar pages and to find pages that link to a particular page. Now, you can still do these searches, if you know the syntax, which is related:www.philb.com and link:philb.com. However if you don't know it, you can't do it, and no doubt Google will at some point remove the functionality on the grounds that no-one uses it any more.
Both of these options were useful tools to enable searchers the check the validity and authority of pages. There is a well known site about Martin Luther King which is particularly biased and the tools were useful to show people how to evaluate websites. Now, it can be argued that since neither tool was particularly accurate it makes sense to remove them. I don't think it is good sense to reduce search functionality, rather to improve the search functionality you have, and if the tools were not accurate, make them accurate! However, if we're looking at this from the opinion of Google, they're following a consistent line - reduce options, don't let searchers search, accept what Google gives us and be happy with it. Google continually uses the line that they know what is best for searchers, when it's perfectly clear that Google has less of an understanding of search as every day goes by.
Unfortunately Bing does not offer any useful alternatives, but don't worry, since there are plenty of places that you can visit in order to check out websites. SimilarPages is an excellent resource - just type in the URL that interests you and see what it comes up with - I find it very valuable and it seldom fails me. Exalead has a link: option in their advanced search dialogue box, and you can try SimilarSiteSearch too. Then you have Whoislike.it as well. Overall however, we're entering a worrying phase with search engine functionality, which seems to be imploding, leading to less choice, less accuracy and a greater reliance on algorithms that we have no knowledge of, and no control over. The one good thing about this sad and sorry situation is that it increases the need for expert searchers!