The greatest video games of all time owe their success to that certain “just one more play” design that keeps people glued to their controllers for hours and hours.   And while Tetris, Pac Man or Brick Breaker may have more bells and whistles, we’ve found that there’s definitely something addictive in nature about Google’s new search tool, the Wonder Wheel.

Sitting down to play around with the Google Wonder Wheel we were amazed when we looked up at the clock to see that over an hour had passed.   Such is the immersive nature of this new tool.

Part of a new set of search options that includes timelines, date sorted searches and other enhancements the Wonder Wheel is Google’s newest method for finding and organizing quality search results.   Using the Wonder Wheel, users are given a visual representation of searches related to their main query.

The Wonder Wheel is a flash-based application that places the primary search term at the center of the diagram and lists the most relevant related search around it in surrounding circles.   Select one of the related search terms and it becomes the center point of the graphic – with its own “family” of related searches in surrounding circles.

Fun and intuitive, the tool is much more than eye-candy however.   It is a dual purpose tool that can aid both keyword research and linkbuilding.   The Wonder Wheel is an ideal way to research and brainstorm keywords and phrases needed to optimize a site properly.  Click around the various circles leads the user down a number of different paths – many of which might not have been immediately recognized using standard search tools.   And by reviewing the backlinks of sites that appear in the top results on the right side of the page, those looking to build additional traffic can find quality targets for link placement at a speedy clip.

The Wonder Wheel is the latest example of Google’s drive to change the way we search the web.   It is one of several innovations that place more of a visual emphasis on search – making it accessible for both novice users, and a powerful tool for SEO professionals.

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