Google Search Improvement

Google makes many changes every year to search – some we are barely aware of, some we don’t like at all, some that are loved instantly. This past year, according to Google’s  head of search Amit Singhal, Google made 890 “improvements”.

Google Made 890 Improvements To Search Over The Past Year, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Aug 19)

He doesn’t say what they were but does list highlights in last 10 years (which is a very long time). Of his ten, I think the most valuable were:

  • Autocomplete – stroke of genius – see the variation and choose one that best suits our intent.
  • Voice search – I love this on my iPad.
  • Knowledge Graph – information nuggets frequently have the answer, or at least a good overview.

Bing goes conversational

Bing has added conversational search by which it uses previous searches to interpret  the current query and select results. Begin with a question such as – who is the prime minister of canada – get the answer – then ask – what party does he belong to – Conservative.

Google announced conversational capabilities with the Hummingbird update, but it doesn’t carry on the conversation the way Bing does now.

Bing Launches Conversational Search, Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Aug 13)

Google features

Google features come and go – almost always without explanation.

Jon Wiley, a search designer at Google, spoke briefly about this – mostly it is to avoid bloatware. Removing features, he said, “is one of the toughest but most important parts of designing products – deciding what to trim as you move forward”

Google Search Designer Explains Why Some Features & Tools Get Axed, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

And – Google may have added a new timeline to the Knowledge Graph.

Google Testing Timeline View In Knowledge Graph, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

“Google is testing a new knowledge graph interface for showing a timeline of data, facts and knowledge in the top carousel section of the Google search results.”

Google starts to remove results

The European Union court decision to require Google to remove results about people requesting “to be forgotten” has resulted in a near deluge of requests – 50,000 of them. Google has begun reviewing them and removing those that are “objectionable” according to the ruling.

Google’s ‘right to be forgotten’ takedowns a ‘challenge to press freedom’
, Juergen Baetz, AP via Globe and Mail (Jul 3)

At least three British media, including the Guardian newspaper and public broadcaster BBC, said they have been notified by Google that links to some of their articles were removed from search results in Europe.

Universal Results

We have come to expect “universal results” for a query – meaning results that pick up videos, images, news. Google introduced it, Bing does it, and DuckDuckGo has a form of it.

This study of Google’s search results showed that it returns some blend of  universal results  for 85% of queries.

“The study shows that for all searches, 85% of them contain some element of universal search blend. The most common are video results, followed by images, then news, shopping and maps. “

Study: Google Universal Results Show Up For 85% Of All Searches: Videos In 65% & Maps In 1%, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Jun 18)

The New DuckDuckGo

In case you haven’t used DuckDuckGo in a while, Barry Schwartz gives a quick summary with screenshots of updates. Mainly,

  • new white look – very popular now
  • more images – might be across the top
  • smarter in search results (I think so)
  • auto-suggest search results

DuckDuckGo Adds Carousel, Auto-Complete, Local Results & More Search Engine Roundtable (May 6)

Dave Johnson at CBS Moneywatch was impressed.

He wrote: “The new DuckDuckGo brings a lot of the search engine’s power to the forefront with a functional and attractive design. Now, searches that yield quick answers — like those for the weather or facts that can be scraped from Wolfram Alpha — are delivered in elegant boxes at the top of the window, very similar to Google’s cards”

DuckDuckGo: A privacy-friendly alternative to Google (May 8)

Improvements to Bing’s Snapshots

Bing has been growing its Snapshot answers. Like Google’s Knowledge Graph, Snapshot (actual search engine is called Sartori) displays information packets about entities and shows relationships.

Bing Snapshot Adds 150 Million New Entities & Relationships To Search Engine by Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Apr 1)

This posting shows changes in April that added 150 million new entities (doctors, lawyers, dentists, real estate properties according to the announcement – likely all USA) and expanded relationships to pick up audio or video clips if available.

On May 16 Bing added more facts about food and drugs to its knowledge base. (From Search Engine Land: Bing Snapshot)

Oh Yum

DuckDuckGo, a meta search engine that seeks results from best sources, has partnered with Yummly, a semantically smart search engine for food recipes. What a fusion!

Yummly Partners With DuckDuckGo To Serve Up Recipes For The Growing Search Engine, Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Jun 11)

Images from Yummly on recipe search at DuckDuckGo

Search at DuckDuckGo for recipes showing the Yummly banner

“By working with Yummly we are delivering the most useful and visually stunning recipe search experience out there. Yummly’s technology understands recipe search queries and we’ve worked together to create a great recipe instant answers experience,” said Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO at DuckDuckGo. [From the Yummly announcement ]