From Mashable, Google tweaks its search functionality to give you a little extra extra, with a Preferred Sites option within Preferences on the Google search page. Apparently this function is not enabled for all users – it was not available when I selected preferences on the Google search screen using my Firefox browser. Preferred Sites is experimental only at this stage and was rolled out to a small group of users.
From the unofficial Google Operating System site:
"The preferred sites feature lets you set your Google Web Search preferences so that your search results match your unique tastes and needs. Fill in the sites you rely on the most, and results from your preferred sites will show up more often when they’re relevant to your search query."
The blog entry also explains that “Preferred Sites is an extension of Google SearchWiki, the feature that allowed you to make per-query changes. If the feature goes live to everyone, people will be able to pick a list of authoritative sites and influence all search results.”
While Mashable questions the utility of selecting the sites you prefer Google to run its searches in and even worries about skewing search results in this fashion, I can see some value to this advanced feature. For example, if you are mostly interested in searching state insurance departments, you can toggle these sites to preferred status. Unlike the Google Custom Search Engine, the search will not be limited to the preferred sites, but will hit them more readily. The ability to achieve greater flexibility in securing the most relevant result is not a bad thing for the avid researcher.