Google has a better idea for search. What if you could customize the results, prioritizing hits based on your personal preferences?

Although searching with key words has worked for the first few decades of the Web, some searches are hard to perform that way alone, Marissa Mayer, vice president of Google Search Products and User Experience, acknowledged today. So Google has added a feature called Search Options in an upgrade its uber-popular search engine.

Now searchers can reorganize the result of a key word search to emphasize particular kinds of links, such as video, or to sort links by timeliness.

A Google goal is to highlight more video, images and other multimedia links in its listing of search results, Mayer said. The "universal search" capability that Google built into its search engine in 2007 now provides one multimedia link for every four items on the search results list.

Those tweaks and more were unveiled today during a press event at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Google is also working on improvements to mobile search, which the company says is growing faster than PC-based search. "We have hundreds of devices we support, many of them having radically different capabilities," Scott Huffman, an engineering director in the company's search quality division, said today. Some phones don't support full browsers and have hard limits on the number of bytes they can download to a page.

Google is working on software that enables its search engine to deliver query results to mobile users that are prioritized based on the user's location, according to Huffman.

To meet the increasing demand of mobile users, Google also introduced a novelty application called Sky Map for mobile phones running the company's Android operating system that creates a map of the night sky that changes depending upon the user's location.

Google today also introduced something called Rich Snippets, which improves upon the blurbs provided under each link. When searching for a particular restaurant, for example, Rich Snippets will pull up a restaurant review while identifying who wrote it and when it was written.

Image © Marco Volpi