Your Google Searches Are Quietly Evolving. Here’s What’s Next

Your Google Searches Are Quietly Evolving. Here’s What’s Next

Except for the occasional cosmetic change to its homepage that might give longtime users pause, Google Search evolves without much notice. While Google says that Search is updated thousands of times a year to improve its results and user experience, those updates are invisible to the millions of requesters making billions of search requests a day in 150 languages.

We asked Google to give us some insights into what some of those changes are and how they’re implemented, and, as we enter the holiday season, we got curious and asked questions about Google Ads and Google Shopping as well. Here is what some of Google’s brain trust told us about the ways that Search and these other services continue to evolve out of sight.

How Does Google Decide What to Change?

While the systems that decide what’s relevant and reliable out of the billions of web pages out there are automated, deciding how those automated systems perform their functions requires a lot of effort from a lot of teams to tweak them. “Delivering great results at this type of scale and complexity requires many different systems, and we’re always looking to improve these systems so we can display the most useful results possible,” says Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for Search.

Sullivan says that changes to Search go through a rigorous process before anything new is implemented. In 2021, Google ran more than 700,000 experiments that resulted in 4,000 improvements to Search. “Data from these evaluations and experiments go through a thorough review by experienced engineers and search analysts, as well as other legal and privacy experts who then determine if the change is approved to launch,” Sullivan says.

What’s Coming Next?

In addition to the tweaks to Google’s Search methodology, many changes to Search are meant to make it more contextual, and to allow users to search in what Sullivan describes as “more natural and intuitive” ways. For example, he says, multisearch on the Google mobile app allows users to snap a picture of something, add text to it, and search by image and text at the same time. Coming soon will be “multisearch near me,” which will do the same but yield local results; for instance, you might take a picture of a type of sushi and Google would help find a restaurant nearby that serves it.

Sullivan says Google is also focused on making some types of searches—such as exploring a new city—more visual, by highlighting work from content creators and the open web. That approach will also apply to a new feature that finds firsthand advice from real people, such as those who create instructional videos. The feature, currently labeled “discussions and forums” in Search, might also lead you to conversations where your topic of interest is being hashed out by experts (or those who believe they are experts).

One evolution you may have long noticed is that you get different search results on mobile than on a desktop. On mobile, fast-loading content that renders well on a mobile screen tends to rank higher. “We’ll give mobile-friendly content a preference over other content, assuming all things are otherwise equal,” Sullivan says. “We’ll also show you links that make sense to your device, such as a link to the correct app store.”


via Wired

November 21, 2022 at 05:14AM

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