Tag Archives: Google Search

Learning independence with Google Search features

Searches can become stories. Some are inspiring, some change the way we see the world and some just put a smile on our face. This is a story of how people can use Google to do something extraordinary. If you have a story, share it. – Ed.

We all have memories of the great teachers who shaped our childhood. They found ways to make the lightbulb go off in our heads, instilled in us a passion for learning and helped us realize our potential. The very best teachers were creative with the tools at their disposal, whether it was teaching the fundamentals of addition with Cheerios or the properties of carbon dioxide with baking soda and vinegar. As the Internet has developed, so too have the resources available for teachers to educate their students.

One teacher who has taken advantage of the web as an educational tool is Cheryl Oakes, a resource room teacher in Wells, Maine. She’s also been able to tailor the vast resources available on the web to each student’s ability. This approach has proven invaluable for Cheryl’s students, in particular 16-year-old Morgan, whose learning disability makes it daunting to sort through search results to find those webpages that she can comfortably read. Cheryl taught Morgan how to use the Search by Reading Level feature on Google Search, which enables Morgan to focus only on those results that are most understandable to her. To address the difficulty Morgan faces with typing, Cheryl introduced her to Voice Search, so Morgan can speak her queries into the computer. Morgan is succeeding in high school, and just registered to take her first college course this summer.

There’s a practically limitless amount of information available on the web, and with search features, you can find the content that is most meaningful for you. For more information, visit google.com/insidesearch/features.html.

Test your creativity with our search caption challenge

Our main goal at Google Search is to bring you the most relevant and useful results as quickly as possible. But, we are aware that often that is only part of your task or journey. Sometimes, you need more than simple results. You might want to learn, to discover, to be entertained or get insights.

Insights can happen when you least expect them. To improve their chances, it’s good to try other things, or do things differently once in awhile. As a lifelong fan and connoisseur of New Yorker style cartoons, I always believed in the power of humor not just to entertain but to enlighten. I have tried to connect humor to everything I do (although, I have to admit, not always successfully). The best cartoonists possess great insights, which they illustrate in a clever package that we can consume in seconds and yet remember for years.

With all of this in mind, today we’re connecting Google search and cartoons through a search caption challenge. Cartoon caption contests have a long history dating back at least to the 1930s, as can be seen in this example I found from Ballyhoo magazine. For our modern version, we worked with artists like Matthew Diffee, Emily Flake, Christoph Niemann, Danny Shanahan and Jim Woodring, who created cartoons that place characters in unusual, interesting and funny situations—all with a common twist. In each cartoon, one of the characters is doing a Google search. We’ve left it to you to imagine what they’d be searching for at that moment, and left the caption blank for you to fill in with your answer.

To participate, go to Inside Search and submit your idea. Your caption will appear on the site, and you can share it with friends via a unique link. You can also vote on your favorite submissions and the most popular will rise to the top.

We hope this game helps you think in a way you wouldn’t otherwise, and maybe get some insights. Or just have fun.

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog)

Giving you fresher, more recent search results

Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent.

If I search for [olympics], I probably want information about next summer’s upcoming Olympics, not the 1900 Summer Olympics (the only time my favorite sport, cricket, was played). Google Search uses a freshness algorithm, designed to give you the most up-to-date results, so even when I just type [olympics] without specifying 2012, I still find what I’m looking for.

Given the incredibly fast pace at which information moves in today’s world, the most recent information can be from the last week, day or even minute, and depending on the search terms, the algorithm needs to be able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old.

We completed our Caffeine web indexing system last year, which allows us to crawl and index the web for fresh content quickly on an enormous scale. Building upon the momentum from Caffeine, today we’re making a significant improvement to our ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness.

  • Recent events or hot topics. For recent events or hot topics that begin trending on the web, you want to find the latest information immediately. Now when you search for current events like [occupy oakland protest], or for the latest news about the [nba lockout], you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old. 
  • Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as annual conferences like [ICALP] or an event like the [presidential election]. Without specifying with your keywords, it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago. There are also things that recur more frequently, so now when you’re searching for the latest [NFL scores], [dancing with the stars] results or [exxon earnings], you’ll see the latest information. 
  • Frequent updates. There are also searches for information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, if you’re researching the [best slr cameras], or you’re in the market for a new car and want [subaru impreza reviews], you probably want the most up to date information. 

There are plenty of cases where results that are a few years old might still be useful for you. [fast tomato sauce recipe] certainly saved me after a call from my wife reminded me I had volunteered to make dinner! On the other hand, when I search for the [49ers score], a result that is a week old might be too old.

Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog)