The web is a diverse place, and the home to every kind of content imaginable. In addition to covering just about any topic you can imagine, the content on the web also features everything from advanced scholarly essays to the ramblings of thirteen year olds who never learned how to spell. Depending on exactly why you’re searching, the ideal information may fall anywhere between those two extremes, but there’s never really been a way to differentiate these in the search results — until now.
Google announced on their Google for Students blog that their advanced search would be coming with a simple but incredibly useful new feature. That feature? The ability to sort and filter results by the reading level of the materials.
Google didn’t mention the exact method they’re using to determine a site’s reading level, although it’s presumed that they’re using an automated glance at the Flesch-Kincaid data of the content. This approach looks at the number of words per sentence and the number of syllables per word to determine how readable data is expected to be. As far as general rubrics go, Flesch-Kincaid is accepted as being accurate in most but not all cases.
Regardless of the exact approach, the tool certainly has a great number of applications, ranging from finding content appropriate for advanced studies, filtering through results for technically oriented phrases for introductory content, or even helping users who are new to the language of the content being read.
To enable this feature, simply go to the advanced search page (found right next to the search bar) and select a reading level option for your search. You can choose to either annotate the results for later sorting, or search through only the “basic,” “intermediate,” or “advanced” content.