Google to add Gmail to search results

In an effort to better personalize Internet searches, Google has unveiled an experimental feature in its search engine that displays related correspondence from a user’s Gmail account. Enlarge photo

Paul Sakuma/Associated Press file photo

In an effort to better personalize Internet searches, Google has unveiled an experimental feature in its search engine that displays related correspondence from a user’s Gmail account.

SAN FRANCISCO – Google is creating an information bridge between its influential Internet search engine and its widely used Gmail service in its latest attempt to deliver more personal responses more quickly.

The experimental feature unveiled last week will enable Google’s search engine to mine the correspondence stored within a user’s Gmail account for any data tied to a search request. For example, a query containing the word “Amazon” would pull emails with shipping information sent by the online retailer.

Such Gmail results typically will be shown to the right of the main results, though in some instances, the top of the search page will highlight an answer extracted directly from an email. For example, the request “my flight” will show specific airline information imported from Gmail. Something similar could eventually happen when searching for a restaurant reservation or tickets to a concert.

Although Google has a commanding lead in Internet search, it remains worried about the threat posed by social-networking services such as Facebook Inc. As social networks have made it easier to share information online, the Web is starting to revolve more around people than the keywords and links that Google’s search engine finds.

Google has been trying to adapt by building more personal services and plugging them into its search engine.

Blending email information into general search results could raise privacy worries. Google is trying to mitigate that by showing Gmail results in a collapsed format that users must open to see the details. For now, users must sign up to participate.

Google is treading carefully as it hooks Gmail up to its Internet search engine. The new feature initially will be available to 1 million Gmail users who sign up at http://g.co/searchtrial. That’s a small fraction of the more than 425 million Gmail accounts that have been set up since Google launched its free email service eight years ago to compete against the offerings from Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

After getting feedback from the test participants, Google hopes to give all Gmail users the option of plugging their accounts into the main search engine, according to Amit Singhal, a senior vice president for the company.