This is actually “old” news, but worth pointing out.  Back in December, Google added their first bit of Ajax to their search.  Although it’s been around for a couple of months, it took Read/Write Web pointing it out before I even noticed it.  Sometimes these new features blend right in, and it takes pointing it out before you notice it.

You’ll find this new addition if a search result has an address on the page. I searched for “Hotels, Chicago Illinois,” and as usual, a map with local results is displayed at the top. But as I scrolled down the page, I noticed one of the search results displayed the plus sign indicating there was an address on the page (pictured above) which Google had plotted on a map. The map will now display, only by clicking on the plus sign (The expanded version pictured below).  At first we weren’t quite sure if it was Ajax or something like DHTML.  After looking at the source code from the page before and after expanding the map, it’s definitely Ajax.

SearchMash, Google’s experimental search is pretty feature intensive, and they’ve had Ajax integrated into it for quite a while now.  One example of this is by clicking “more results”, Ajax is used to display more search returns.  There’s other Ajax integrated into the ride side column as well, with features such as displaying Wikipedia results. Perhaps Google will start integrating some of the features unique to SearchMash into Google search, like they’ve done with the Ajax?

There are many new startups creating search engines that are intensive with Web 2.0 features.  This is possibly Google’s first step in adding Web 2.0 elements to stay ahead of the competition.  While the “competition”is not an immediate threat to Google, in the future, Web 2.0 elements might be something Google needs to pay more attention to.