Thursday, May 04, 2006

Google Health: Probably coming next week

Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of search products and user experience, came to USA TODAY on Tuesday. She mentioned that there would be a couple of big announcements next Wednesday at the annual Google Press Day -- which I will attend, along with my colleague Jefferson Graham.

Marissa_mayer_lg Not long after, I asked her why Google doesn't have more vertical offerings, like for health. Those tend to give users better results in a specific area. Like, now if you type "knees" into Google, on the first page you get an article from Arthritis Today, a British site called Kneeguru, and another site with a subtitle of "Kink Notes by a Pansexual Polyfetishist." But we won't go there.

Anyway, Marissa then said, "Health is an interesting one -- keep your eye out for that next week." But that was about it. Considering that hint, though, an announcement of a Google Health site seems a good bet. Rumors about just such a site have been bouncing around the Web on sites such as SearchEngineWatch.

Other things to watch for, according to Marissa:

-- Later this year, Google will start integrating video into its results in Google News. So if you search for "bird flu," you'll get the USA TODAY results alongside the video report from CNN, and so on.

-- Video, in general, will be integrated more into all results. "The presentation of search results is going to change a lot in the next couple of years," she says. "Video will play a big role. If you search for how to cut up a chicken or how to change a flat tire, video is the right answer."

BTW, Marissa was in the DC area primarily not to see me -- much as I might like to think so. She was here meeting with folks on Capitol Hill, "to build relationships and awareness," she says. "We realize we have an increased sense of responsibility and (are involved in) more policy issues" -- like copyright, Net neutrality and China.

(Photo of Mayer from Google)