The Real Reason Google Wonder Wheel Died: It Was A Pain To Maintain

google-wonder-wheelSeveral weeks ago we reported that Google had taken the Wonder Wheel service offline.

Its removal was a surprise to all its users including the many K-12 educators. A Google spokesperson old us that Wonder Wheel was removed due to the ”initial stage” of the Google website redesign but did not share any info when we asked if and/or when Wonder Wheel would return.

Now, let’s jump to the other day when I came across (by accident) a Google Help Forum post by a Google employee that was posted only two days after our Search Engine Land item. It provides a different explanation than Google gave us originally.

The Googler, who uses the handle drussell+u2u, does not mention the redesign but says that Wonder Wheel was technically a ”headache” to maintain. Wonder Wheel, at least as we’ve known it to this point will not be back. However, the employee adds that, “we’re hoping to be back with a real improvement sometime soon.”

Wonder wheel has been problematic for some time now (maintenance of the system is a headache). The idea is a great one, so we’re looking into ways to improve the main idea while creating an even better user experience. Hang in there, the ability to explore the space of related searches is a good one, and we’re hoping to be back with a real improvement sometime soon.

​​Our story appeared after Wonder Wheel was removed but an official announcement from the Googleplex was not made. It also came about a month after we learned that Google’s Uncle Sam government search vertical (and a few other verticals) were also taken offline without letting users know. In that case, Google apologized for not communicating more clearly.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: User Interface | Google: Web Search | Search Features: Query Refinement

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About The Author: is a librarian, author, and an online information analyst based in suburban Washington, DC. He is the co-founder and co-editor of INFOdocket and FullTextReports.com and prior to that was founder/editor of ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. He has worked for Blekko, Ask.com, and at Search Engine Watch where he was news editor. In 2001, Price was the co-author (with Chris Sherman) of the best-selling book The Invisible Web.

Connect with the author via: Email



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  • http://thenoisychannel.com/ Daniel Tunkelang

    I’m pretty sure that drussell is Google Senior Research Scientist (and HCIR expert) Dan Russell: https://sites.google.com/site/dmrussell/

    As for Wonder Wheel, I tried it before I worked at Google and was underwhelmed. I’m not surprised that Google retired it.

    http://thenoisychannel.com/2009/03/25/taking-the-google-wonder-wheel-for-a-spin/

  • http://www.edeninteractive.com S.E.

    Will miss the Google Wonder Wheel, I used this all the time to develop keyword seed lists.
    I hope they bring it back, bigger and better.

    Searchengineman

  • Kirill Kireyev

    Many people have (especially teachers) have been calling instaGrok.com a better replacement for Wonder Wheel

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