News and notes from Google Down Under
Two new improvements to Google result pages
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
(Ed's note: 'More and better search refinements' is in part based on technology developed by Australian PhD student Ori Allon - read more about his contribution
Today we're rolling out two new improvements to Google search. The first offers an expanded list of useful related searches and the second is the addition of longer search result descriptions -- both of which help guide users more effectively to the information they need.
More and better search refinements
Starting today, we're deploying a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search, and one of its first applications lets us offer you even more useful related searches (the terms found at the bottom, and sometimes at the top, of the search results page).
For example, if you search for [
principles of physics
], our algorithms understand that "angular momentum," "special relativity," "big bang" and "quantum mechanic" are related terms that could help you find what you need. Here's an example:
Let's look at a couple of examples in other languages. In Russian, for the query [
гадание на картах
](fortune-telling with cards), the algorithms find the related terms "таро" (tarot), "ленорман" (lenormand) and "тибетское гадание мо" (tibetan divination mo). In Italian, if you search for [
surf alle canarie
](surf at the Canary Islands), we now offer suggestions based on the three most famous Canary Islands: "lanzarote," "gran canaria," and "fuerteventura":
We are now able to target more queries, more languages, and make our suggestions more relevant to what you actually need to know. Additionally, we're now offering refinements for longer queries — something that's usually a challenging task. You'll be able to see our new related searches starting today in 37 languages all around the world.
And speaking of long queries, that leads us to our next improvement...
When you do a search on Google, each result we give you starts with a dark blue title and is followed by a few lines of text (what we call a "snippet"), which together give you an idea of what each page is about. To give more context, the snippet shows how the words of your query appear on the page by highlighting them in
When you enter a longer query, with more than three words, regular-length snippets may not give you enough information and context. In these situations, we now increase the number of lines in the snippet to provide more information and show more of the words you typed in the context of the page. Below are a couple of examples.
Suppose you were looking for information about Earth's rotation around the sun, and specifically wanted to know about its tilt and distance from the sun. So you type all of that into Google: [earth's rotation axis tilt and distance from sun]. A normal-length snippet wouldn't be able to show you the context for all of those words, but with longer snippets you can be sure that the first result covers all those topics. In addition, the extra line of snippets for the third result shows the word "sun" in context, suggesting that the page doesn't talk about Earth's distance from the sun:
Similarly, if you're looking for a restaurant review that covers all the parts of the meal, longer snippets can help:
But don't just take our word for it — try it out yourself with your favorite long, detailed query.
These are just two recent examples of improvements we've made. We are constantly looking for ways to get you to the web page you want as quickly as possible. Even if you don't notice all of our changes, rest assured we're hard at work making sure you have the highest quality search experience possible.
Ori Allon, Technical Lead, Search Quality team, and Ken Wilder, Snippets Team Engineer
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