Odd:  The operator of the RUGLES.COM blog put RUNNING SHOES into Google and received the prompts depicted above, including DID YOU MEAN NIKE RUNNING SHOES and several other prompts identifying brand names. 

It’s a good thing Rugles took the screen shot above because no one can reproduce the results, suggesting that Google might have been conducting an unannounced test for a short period of time.  It’s interesting to ponder the ramifications of Google selling keyword prompts.  This test involves a prompt for specificity in response to a general search term (NIKE RUNNING SHOES as a prompt for RUNNING SHOES) but the technology would seem to allow for any type of prompt (WHY NOT TRY REEBOK INSTEAD? as a prompt for NIKE).  Well, I see issues with that.

Meanwhile, KARTROO is already deploying an interesting integration of brand directory and search engine.

UPDATE: It has been pointed out that Google could merely be adding its version of the “refine your search” and “related search” function found in Lycos and Yahoo respectively, in that the prompt supplies the most common search terms which incorporate the phrase.  On Yahoo, the first two suggestions for RUNNING SHOES are NIKE RUNNING SHOES and WOMENS RUNNING SHOES.

It’s certainly possible that this is what Google intends.  The three keyword prompts for running shoes, NIKE, NEW BALANCE and BROOKS, are the most searched brands using the term RUNNING SHOES, at least on Overture.