Google unveiled a search site Thursday designed to take the frustration out of trying to find U.S. government information.
Google U.S. Government Search also features on its entry page government-related news articles from media outlets like The Washington Post and official announcements from the White House, the military and the Congress.
Aimed at government employees, contractors and the public, the site allows users to search content contained on U.S. federal, state and local government websites or widen that search to the entire Internet. To generate the government search, Google has included websites with the .gov and .mil domains as well as some government sites with the .com, .us and .edu domains.
Like other Google sites, users can customize the look of their search page, bringing in content from a directory that covers not only government information but also other topics including business and sports. News from websites not featured in the directory can also be added via RSS feeds.
To provide the proper national feel, the “l” in the Google logo on the government search site acts as a pole flying the U.S. flag. Then when a user clicks on the government search option, the Google logo that appears with the search results is also emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes. The capital and lowercase “g” in the company logo are blue with white stars, while the other letters feature red and white stripes.
Google already has a strong focus on providing tools for government agencies, particularly in the areas of enterprise and geospatial search with products such as the Google Search Appliance and Google Earth Enterprise. The company recently appointed Mike Bradshaw to head its federal sales operation.
Google has been selling its products to U.S. federal agencies for about three years, according to Kevin Gough, product manager for Google U.S. Government Search. With the expanded capacity of Google Search Appliance and the enterprise version of Google Earth, the company’s offerings have recently become more relevant for the needs of U.S. agencies, he said.
The search company is also currently reaching out to government agencies with an initiative to encourage them to use Google’s Sitemaps, Gough said. The product allows individual Web masters to tell Google which parts of their sites they’d like to be included in the Google search index.
It’s likely that Google will create government search sites for other countries in the future. “We’re a global country, and government search is relevant for all our markets,” Gough said. He wouldn’t be drawn on which nations Google might target first.
There are already several U.S. government search offerings available, including the search functionality offered by FirstGov.gov, the U.S. government Web portal.
Back in January, partly in response to criticism of its search capabilities, FirstGov effectively relaunched with a new search engine powered by Microsoft’s MSN Search coupled with contextual search functionality from Vivisimo.
-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)
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