Google launched 3-4 new features at Searchology today. You can read about Search Options, Google Squared, Rich Snippets, or Sky Map in my previous post. But I also pay attention to the small things that Google said. I noticed several tidbits that I don’t think we’ve said in public before.
– Pat Riley mentioned a couple internal code names for spell-check features. There’s the normal “Did you mean:” spellcheck link in red at the top of the search results. Then there’s a more aggressive feature (internal Google codename: “Chameleon”) that does mid-page suggestions:
Finally, there’s an even more aggressive feature (internal Google code name: “Spellmeleon”) for when we really think the user messed up. In that case, we’ll include a couple results for the corrected query first, then results for the user’s original query. Take the query [ipodd] for example. Our algorithms strongly suggest that the user meant to type “ipod” so we’ll include those search results first.
By the way, if you’re a power searcher and you really did want “ipodd” then you can do the query [+ipodd] with a ‘+’ character in front of the word that you want to match exactly. Let me just say that Spellmeleon makes life *so* much better for my webspam team. Tons of spammers target typos and misspelled queries all the time. If users see a couple of valid results before they see results for a misspelled/typo query, well, lets just say that users are exposed to a lot less webspam in Google. I’m a big fan of Spellmeleon.
– Pat Riley also mentioned that if you do some of these search improvements in a naive way, the additional server load is equivalent to if Germany and France just appeared out of nowhere and started sending all their daily searches to Google. So you have to do some smart things to make this search improvement viable.
– Scott Huffman revealed that mobile search results are blended between results from the mobile web and results from the regular/normal web. Makes sense, but not everyone knows that.
– Marissa Mayer mentioned that about 1 in 4 searches triggers a universal/blended search result.
– Marissa also mentioned that 40% of searches on any given day are repeat searches for that user (I’m not sure if that means repeated that day, or just repeated compared to past searches). She mentioned that to explain why SearchWiki can be useful, because if you’re repeating a search, you may want to customize the results to your taste. Marissa also said SearchWiki receives hundreds of thousands of annotations each day.
– Someone asked how important is it to search video with a text search query? Google did this for political videos during the election and I’d really like to see more in this area. Together with fellow Googler Wysz, I’ve made about 50 videos to answer common webmaster questions. Right now it’s a pain to create caption files for those videos. If Google could give me a rough speech-to-text transcript (with timecodes) and let me edit the transcript to correct errors, that would be fantastic. Then someone in Turkey could read my videos even if they didn’t understand English. I would love that.
– In answer to a question from Vanessa Fox, Kavi Goel mentioned that Rich Snippets will roll out slowly at first (probably beginning as a whitelist of trusted sites) but that over time, more and more sites could show up with rich snippets. You can read more about rich snippets on the Google webmaster blog or see example code. And if you’re really into RDFa or microformats or rich snippets, the folks at O’Reilly did a nice interview with two Googlers (Othar and Guha) involved with the project.
– TechCrunch got some video of Google Squared. The whole video is interesting, but the part that I thought was funny was 4 minutes, 12 seconds into the video where the Google demo person signs into Google Squared and Michael Arrington does the polite “password lookaway” and looks at Steve Gillmor, who is also doing the polite password lookaway.
– Finally, Tara Calashain asks for a custom date range form (hear hear!) and then points out something I missed. Once you move into searching with date ranges, you can sort Google results by date. This opens up lots of options for power searchers. Here’s a search for [hubble telescope] with sort-by-date selected:
That’s pretty useful.
– If you want to see the slides from Searchology, it looks like Yvo Schaap took the time to snapshot each slide as it appeared. Until/unless Google releases the slide deck, that’s where you can see the slides unofficially. My favorite is slide #8.