While I am sure Google always has good intentions behind their new projects and features, you can’t please everyone. Many of the tweaks that have been introduced to search results pages have been found annoying by many users.
The search preview (working from the magnifying glass icon) keeps getting in the users’ way when they are trying to copy anything from search results or just browse further. A +1 button is too easy to click by mistake (and it can actually be distracting). The sidebar with search options moves the search results to the right and also distracts from the normal search process (especially if you never need the options).
While we are waiting for Google to give their users the choice (offering an easy way to switch any of the new features off from their own Options section), here are a few ways to simplify search results:
1. Use Google Mobile
This is the easiest and the quickest solution – just use the Google Mobile interface for your desktop browser. Simply bookmark Google Mobile.
2. Use A Combination Of User Scripts
We have covered quite a few tips previously – each tip helps to solve part of the problem; now combine them to get rid of all (or selected) annoyances:
- Here is how you can get rid of the Google Search Sidebar (by using a Greasemonkey script or creating a search plugin. Note that the URL tweak mentioned in that post doesn’t seem to work any longer).
- Find the tips on disabling Google Instant and Google Suggest here (the last part contains some tips on disabling Google preview).
- Finally, learn how to strip the Google tracking code from search result URLs (to easily copy target URLs right from search results pages).
3. Use Third-Party Custom Searches
You can create Google custom searches yourself or you can use one of multiple already built Google search tools that strip everything except the actual search results.
Note however that the results through Google API can be somewhat different from what Google shows through their own normal web interface (for example custom search results will be depersonalized). However unless you are a search marketing professional who focuses on how Google ranks webpages), you are unlikely to ever notice the difference.
- No tracking code in the URL: you can “Copy Link Location” and easily paste the full URL any time.
- No Instant Preview and no +1 button.
- No left-sidebar search options (D8Search moves some of the most useful options next to the search bar).
- Unlike Google Mobile, these will also strip “Indented Results” (these are results from the same domains – Google usually shows them in one cluster). Both the Google Mobile and Custom search tools will strip Google Sitelinks (extra results from the same domain displayed in two columns).
Normal search results (you can see the sitelinks in a red frame):
Google Mobile results (you can see “Indented Results” in the red frame):
Custom search results (one result per domain):
As far as you can see, there’s no single good solution for those who only want to search and nothing else. However playing with various possible workarounds is likely to help you find what works for you. Good luck!
I’d love you to complete this tutorial with your own suggestions and tips!