Google lets the music play in search results

The company is rolling out enhancements for how it handles music-related queries

Google is changing the way it resolves music-related search queries through a variety of partnerships designed to help it provide more relevant and useful results.

The updates are significant, given that Google gets millions of queries every day about recording artists, albums and songs, the company said on Wednesday.

The results will now include links to audio previews of songs, thanks to partnerships with Lala.com and MySpace, which owns iLike. Google said it will also be better able to recognize snippets of lyrics, which could be useful when people know a few lines from a song but not its title. And its search results will include links to music sites Pandora, iMeem and Rhapsody.

Google will not include links to the partners' music stores; users will have to find those after landing on their sites, a Google spokesman said via e-mail.

The partnerships are focused on improving Google's search experience and driving traffic to the partner sites, and don't have any financial components, meaning Google will not be compensated through traffic referral fees or sales commissions, the spokesman said.

Google called it a "first step" in what will be a broader effort to improve its engine's ability to address music-related queries. Until now, the extent of Google's optimization for music queries were some special results like providing artist discographies, the Google spokesman said.

The music search improvements are part of Google's broad, long-range "universal search" initiative, launched in May 2007, in which the company has worked to mix an increasing variety of search result types into its main Web search engine, serving up links to videos, news articles, images and maps, in addition to standard Web pages.

The music features will be rolled out over the next day for U.S. users. They will not be available to users elsewhere in the world.

Six percent of Google's top 1,000 search terms last week were related to music, and the search engine routed almost 1.5 percent of its visitors to music category sites, according to Experian Hitwise.

Overall, Google topped all search engines with 30 percent of all referrals to music sites, five times more than Yahoo, which ranked second, Experian Hitwise said in a blog post Wednesday.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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