Tag Archives: Inside Search

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)

Ten algorithm changes on Inside Search

We make roughly 500 changes to our search algorithm in a typical year. Our goal is to make search run so smoothly, you don’t even notice the changes. That said, we like giving you insights into what we’re doing behind the search results you see each day. Today on Inside Search, we’ve posted a recap of some of the algorithmic changes we’ve made over just the past couple weeks. These changes improve everything from translation, to snippets to autocomplete. For the complete list including descriptions of the changes, check out the post on the Inside Search blog.

Powering a new job search engine for military veterans

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog and the Public Policy blog)

Earlier today, President Obama spoke about the importance of helping returning military veterans find work. Thousands of businesses have committed to hiring military veterans and families and as part of this nationwide effort, starting today, job seekers can visit the National Resource Directory (NRD) to search more than 500,000 job openings from employers around the country.


We have been working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a customized job search engine for the NRD, using Google Custom Search technology. This custom search engine uses the power and scale of Google search to constantly crawl the web, looking for JobPosting markup from Schema.org on sites like simplyhired.com to identify veteran-committed job openings. An employer can easily add a job posting to NRD simply by adding that markup to their own web page. As pages are updated or removed from the web, they’re automatically updated and removed from the system, keeping the available job postings on NRD fresh and up to date.

If you’re an employer, you can find more information on how to participate on nationalresourcedirectory.gov. In addition, organizations such as local veterans’ groups can help people find jobs by adding a veteran-committed jobs search box to their websites.

We’re happy to contribute to this important initiative and hope businesses use this opportunity to connect with veterans seeking employment.

To pitch a perfect game, teach yourself online

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog)

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.

My major league pitching career was anything but perfect. The closest I ever came was a seven-inning outing against Milwaukee while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, in which I gave up only four runs and earned the victory. In baseball, you can be successful without coming close to perfect. Just think about batting average: a .400 average is insanely good, but that means you strike out or get out in some other way more than half the time you’re at bat. Hall of Fame pitchers give up an average of more than two runs per game. Seldom does a pitcher throw a shutout. A perfect game—in which a pitcher does not allow a single player on base—is incredibly rare.

In the majors, setting your team up to win involves daily physical workouts, hours of practice and in-depth analysis of the opposing teams’ traits and tendencies. The idea that someone without this training and background could instead go online, gather and process the necessary information and use it to throw a perfect game is unfathomable. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Brian Kingrey.

Brian is a high school music teacher from Hammond, La. and not much of a sports fan. As one of his students put it, “I’ve never heard him say the word baseball.” But Brian is a gamer—so naturally, he was intrigued by the $1 million prize he saw in a TV commercial for a new baseball video game called MLB 2K11. He knew nothing about baseball, had never even played the real game in his life, but encouraged by his wife, he went out, bought the game and started playing. A few weeks later, Brian won the $1 million prize for pitching the first perfect game in MLB 2K11. And he learned how to do it entirely online.

“I had to figure out what baseball was, not just what a perfect game was,” Brian said. He found that everything he needed to know was online: he was able to search about batters, batting averages, the different kinds of pitches. He combined the information to figure out that he had the best odds in a match-up between the Phillies — with star pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound — and the Houston Astros. He also researched the weak spots of each player—for instance, the toughest batter Halladay would face was going to be Astro’s infielder Bill Hall. After that, Brian was ready to play.

And play he did. On his third try, Brian pitched the perfect game and became a millionaire. “Once I got past Bill Hall, I knew I had it,” he said. “Without online search, I would’ve been in deep trouble. If I had played like it was in my head, I would’ve done it all wrong.” Perhaps if I’d known that search was the answer when I was playing in the major leagues, I might have come a little closer to perfection more often.

Another look under the hood of search

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog and the Public Policy blog)

Over the past few years, we’ve released a series of blog posts to share the methodology and process behind our search ranking, evaluation and algorithmic changes. Just last month, Ben Gomes, Matt Cutts and I participated in a Churchill Club event where we discussed how search works and where we believe it’s headed in the future.

Beyond our talk and various blog posts, we wanted to give people an even deeper look inside search, so we put together a short video that gives you a sense of the work that goes into the changes and improvements we make to Google almost every day. While an improvement to the algorithm may start with a creative idea, it always goes through a process of rigorous scientific testing. Simply put: if the data from our experiments doesn’t show that we’re helping users, we won’t launch the change.

In the world of search, we’re always striving to deliver the answers you’re looking for. After all, we know you have a choice of a search engine every time you open a browser. As the Internet becomes bigger, richer and more interactive it means that we have to work that much harder to ensure we’re unearthing and displaying the best results for you.

The evolution of sitelinks: expanded and improved

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog)
When you’re searching, you often have a specific task in mind, like figuring out which exhibits are showing at a nearby museum. Despite this narrow goal, people often start with a broad query, like [metropolitan museum of art], with no mention of exhibits. For these searches, the first result may include a list of links to specific sections of the site, which are called “sitelinks.” Today, we’re launching several improvements to sitelinks, including the way they look and are organized in search results.


Sitelinks before today’s changes



Sitelinks have been around for a while, but when we first launched them years ago, they were much more limited—a single row of just four links:



It turns out that sitelinks are quite useful because they can help predict which sections of the site you want to visit. Even if you didn’t specify your task in the query, sitelinks help you quickly navigate to the most relevant part of the site, which is particularly handy for large and complex websites. Sitelinks can also give you a good overview of a website’s content, and let webmasters expose areas of the site that visitors may not know about.

As it became clear how valuable sitelinks were, we continued to improve their appearance and quality. We rearranged them into a column of links to make them easier to read. We doubled the number of links, creating direct access to more of the site. We started showing sitelinks for more results and we continuously made improvements to the algorithms that generate and rank the links. With each of these changes, people used sitelinks more and more.

That brings us to today’s launch. Sitelinks will now be full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text—similar to regular results—making it even easier to find the section of the site you want. We’re also increasing the maximum number of sitelinks per query from eight to 12.

Improved sitelinks with URLs and snippet text

In addition, we’re making a significant improvement to our algorithms by combining sitelink ranking with regular result ranking to yield a higher-quality list of links. This reduces link duplication and creates a better organized search results page. Now, all results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks, and all results from other sites will appear below them. The number of sitelinks will also vary based on your query—for example, [museum of art nyc] shows more sitelinks than [the met] because we’re more certain you want results from www.metmuseum.org.

These changes will be rolling out globally over the next few days in all supported languages to anyone using a modern browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or IE 7 and above. We hope these changes make it easier and faster for you to reach the information you need.

Find more while you browse with Google Related

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog and the Chrome blog)

Almost every time I go online, I come across some new topic or item that I’d like to learn more about. Sometimes it’s as simple as the latest buzz on the new shop down the street. Other times it’s something more significant, like a counterpoint to an opinion piece I’m reading. While the answer can be just a simple search away, we wanted to find a way to get some of those answers to you even faster. Now with Google Related, a new Chrome Extension and Google Toolbar feature, you’ll automatically see interesting content relevant to what’s on the page you’re viewing, right where you’re viewing it.

Whether you’re reading a news article, shopping for a new pair of shoes or visiting your favorite musician’s website, Google Related works in the background to find you the most interesting and relevant content on the topics you’re currently viewing. For example, if you visit a restaurant’s website, Related can show you a map, reviews from Google Places, mentions from across the web and other similar eateries that you might want to try.

Results will display in a thin bar at the bottom of your screen, and will remain minimized until you hover over them with your mouse. Once selected, they’ll open up immediately in your browser window, saving you the trouble of having to open multiple new windows or tabs. If Google Related shows you something you’re interested in, you can let others know using the built-in +1 button.

In order to offer you relevant suggestions, Related sends the URL and other available information about the pages you visit back to Google. If you’re interested in how that data is used and stored, you can learn more here and here.

If you decide you’d rather not see the Related bar, you can easily hide it for specific pages and sites through the Options menu. If you use Related as part of Google Toolbar, you can disable Related entirely through the Options menu as well.

Google Related is available both as a Chrome Extension in the Chrome Web Store and as a new feature in Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer. Visit www.google.com/related to learn more and to get Google Related today.