Google has a couple new elements going on in its results pages. The first one is the addition of brand links for some queries. For example, if you search for "watches" you might get links for Citizen, Nixon, Rolex, Omega, and Fossil. Or if you search for "footballs" you might get links for Wilson, Nike, Rawlings, Spalding, and Dallas Cowboys.
In the ones I've seen, they appear near the top of the results, just below the top paid listings. They are not links to the sites of these brands, however. They are links to SERPs for queries that incorporate those brands into them. For example, clicking "Wilson" in the footballs example will take me to results page for "wilson footballs".
It's unclear whether these results have been rolled out on a mass scale or if they are just part of a limited test. Nobody seems to know how to get your brand listed in these suggestions. I'm guessing it's related to how frequently these brands are searched for in relation to their respective items. It might be nice if there was a "see more brands" option.
The second new SERP element is only available for certain languages - it's a virtual keyboard. This is based on an API the company launched last year. Google users using supported languages will find a keyboard icon next to the search box, which brings up a virtual keyboard they can use to enter their query.
Google Product Manager Manish Bhargava says, "Our user research has shown that many people are more comfortable formulating search queries in their own language but have difficulty typing these queries into Google. (Try typing ?????? on a keyboard with English letters.) To overcome the difficulty they face in typing in their local language scripts, some people have resorted to copying and pasting from other sites and from online translation tools. But there’s an easier way — a virtual, or 'on-screen' keyboard, lets you type directly in your local language script in an easy and consistent manner, no matter where you are or what computer you’re using."
Languages Google is integrating virtual keyboards with include: Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Finnish, Galician, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Macedonian, Malayalam, Mongolian, Persian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Tatar, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Uzbek.