As Google pushes fresh search results, a helpful Google search tool for historical searches quietly vanished earlier this month. Google has confirmed that Google’s Timeline search option, which debuted in 2007, has been discontinued.
By clicking on the Timeline option, Google would break down the number of results for your search by year in bar graph format. Here’s an example:
In a Google web search help post, Googler Kelly Fee confirmed Timeline is history. Her best suggestion for frustrated users: use the refinement tools in the left side of the search results page to restrict searches by date.
Other options Fee suggested included using Google Trends and Insights for Search for graphs of historical results (at least from 2004 to present), and the ngram viewer in Google Books. However, as pointed out by many in the forums, these are poor substitutes at best.
Another option pointed out in the discussion is to use the Google News archive option – hopefully that one won’t also be killed soon. Google eliminated Google News Timeline in August.
It’s likely the search option was axed, much like the + operator, because not enough Google users made use of it. Still, it was a great tool when you needed it.