The evolution of search in six minutes

(Cross-posted on from the Official Google Blog)

This summer we posted a video that takes a peek under the hood of search, sharing the methodology behind search ranking and evaluation. Through this methodology, we make roughly 500 improvements to search in a typical year. As we often discuss, that’s a lot of change, and it can be hard to make sense of it all.

Following up on our last video, we wanted to share with you a short history of the evolution of search, highlighting some of the most important milestones from the past decade—and a taste of what’s coming next.

Our goal is to get you to the answer you’re looking for faster and faster, creating a nearly seamless connection between your questions and the information you seek. That means you don’t generally need to know about the latest search feature in order to take advantage of it— simply type into the box as usual and find the answers you’re looking for.

However, for those of you looking to deepen your understanding of how search has evolved, the video highlights some important trends:

  • Universal Results: With Universal Search—which returns results like images, videos, and news, in addition to webpages—we’re helping you find all different kinds of information in the same place. We’ve continued to make search more comprehensive, enabling you to find products, places, patents, books, maps and more.
  • Quick Answers: Today on Google you’ll find more than just a list of links to websites. You’ll find Quick Answers at the top of the page for a wide variety of topics, including flight times, sports scores, weather and dozens more. As our technology gets better, we’re beginning to answer harder questions for you, right on the search results page.
  • The Future of Search: We’ve also been focused on developing faster ways to search and save time, whether we’re shaving seconds off searches with Google Instant or helping you search from your phone with Voice Search. Searching should be as easy as thinking, and the future looks bright!

As part of making the video we also created a timeline of search features. It’s not the first timeline we’ve done, but I think this one does a nice job of categorizing the different kinds of Universal Results and Quick Answers we’ve added over the years:
The timeline depicts the approximate dates when we launched particular search feature enhancements. You can also download a larger image by following this link.
It’s been exciting to be part of the evolution of search over the past decade, and we’re thrilled about what’s in store next. If the past is any indication, we don’t know what search will look like in 2020, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it looks nothing like it does today.

Testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives on copyright legislation

Ten recent algorithm changes

Starting today, we'll begin cross-posting some entries from our Inside Search blog to help pull back the curtain even further on how Google search works. We hope to provide greater transparency by posting regular updates about our major search ranking changes.

Today we’re continuing our long-standing series of blog posts to share the methodology and process behind our search ranking, evaluation and algorithmic changes. This summer we published a video that gives a glimpse into our overall process, and today we want to give you a flavor of specific algorithm changes by publishing a highlight list of many of the improvements we’ve made over the past couple weeks.

We’ve published hundreds of blog posts about search over the years on this blog, our Official Google Blog, and even on my personal blog. But we’re always looking for ways to give you even deeper insight into the over 500 changes we make to search in a given year. In that spirit, here’s a list of ten improvements from the past couple weeks:
  • Cross-language information retrieval updates: For queries in languages where limited web content is available (Afrikaans, Malay, Slovak, Swahili, Hindi, Norwegian, Serbian, Catalan, Maltese, Macedonian, Albanian, Slovenian, Welsh, Icelandic), we will now translate relevant English web pages and display the translated titles directly below the English titles in the search results. This feature was available previously in Korean, but only at the bottom of the page. Clicking on the translated titles will take you to pages translated from English into the query language.
  • Snippets with more page content and less header/menu content: This change helps us choose more relevant text to use in snippets. As we improve our understanding of web page structure, we are now more likely to pick text from the actual page content, and less likely to use text that is part of a header or menu.
  • Better page titles in search results by de-duplicating boilerplate anchors: We look at a number of signals when generating a page’s title. One signal is the anchor text in links pointing to the page. We found that boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so we are putting less emphasis on these. The result is more relevant titles that are specific to the page’s content.
  • Length-based autocomplete predictions in Russian: This improvement reduces the number of long, sometimes arbitrary query predictions in Russian. We will not make predictions that are very long in comparison either to the partial query or to the other predictions for that partial query. This is already our practice in English.
  • Extending application rich snippets: We recently announced rich snippets for applications. This enables people who are searching for software applications to see details, like cost and user reviews, within their search results. This change extends the coverage of application rich snippets, so they will be available more often.
  • Retiring a signal in Image search: As the web evolves, we often revisit signals that we launched in the past that no longer appear to have a significant impact. In this case, we decided to retire a signal in Image Search related to images that had references from multiple documents on the web.
  • Fresher, more recent results: As we announced just over a week ago, we’ve made a significant improvement to how we rank fresh content. This change impacts roughly 35 percent of total searches (around 6-10% of search results to a noticeable degree) and better determines the appropriate level of freshness for a given query.
  • Refining official page detection: We try hard to give our users the most relevant and authoritative results. With this change, we adjusted how we attempt to determine which pages are official. This will tend to rank official websites even higher in our ranking.
  • Improvements to date-restricted queries: We changed how we handle result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a specific date range. This helps ensure that users get the results that are most relevant for the date range that they specify.
  • Prediction fix for IME queries: This change improves how Autocomplete handles IME queries (queries which contain non-Latin characters). Autocomplete was previously storing the intermediate keystrokes needed to type each character, which would sometimes result in gibberish predictions for Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.
If you’re a site owner, before you go wild tuning your anchor text or thinking about your web presence for Icelandic users, please remember that this is only a sampling of the hundreds of changes we make to our search algorithms in a given year, and even these changes may not work precisely as you’d imagine. We’ve decided to publish these descriptions in part because these specific changes are less susceptible to gaming.

For those of us working in search every day, we think this stuff is incredibly exciting -- but then again, we’re big search geeks. Let us know what you think and we’ll consider publishing more posts like this in the future.

Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Kansas City

Yesterday, we announced that we’ve partnered with Startup Weekend—a global organization committed to promoting real entrepreneurship in local communities. Startup Weekend hosts events in more than 200 cities, where a diverse group of entrepreneurs collaborate to inspire, educate, and empower their communities.  Participants gather on Friday, and by Sunday afternoon, they launch a product or startup.

Startup Weekend is a global initiative—but it’s coming to Kansas City this weekend!  Over the next 54 hours, developers, designers, and community members will brainstorm and collaborate on ways to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in Kansas City.  

Part of the conversation will touch on Google Fiber and the unique fiber-to-the-home network KC will soon have.  Startup Weekend participants will brainstorm how Fiber can super-charge their ideas to create products and services for a truly connected city. We’re excited to hear what they come up with!

The Kansas City Startup Weekend also kicks off Global Entrepreneurship Week activities in Kansas City.  If you can’t make it to Startup Weekend, you can attend one of many events throughout the Kansas City region that will celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit.  

Powering a new job search engine for military veterans

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and Inside Search 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 on sites like 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 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.

Advancing the free flow of information

The global economy relies on the free flow of information more than ever before. Companies large and small can use the Internet to reach new markets, which contributes to economic growth, job creation, and increased trade around the world.

But as companies and individuals are transmitting more information online, some governments are seeking to impose limits on the free flow of information. More than 40 governments now block or restrict information and data available on the Internet.

Last year, we released a white paper demonstrating that governments which block the free flow of information on the Internet are also blocking trade and economic growth. For example, when companies can’t confidentially and confidently transmit the files and information that are necessary to keep their business running, their ability to export goods and services is hurt. The thesis is simple: when countries support the free flow of information, they will see more economic growth.

That’s why we joined companies like Citi, Microsoft, IBM, GE and others to endorse a new set of principles endorsing the free flow of information across borders. The principles, written under the leadership of the National Foreign Trade Council, outline several priorities for the U.S. business community which will promote transparent, fair, and secure cross-border data flows.

Individuals and businesses will benefit from a more consistent and transparent framework for the treatment of cross-border flows of goods, services and information. We look forward to continued work with governments and industry to advance the free flow of information online.

Google Plus circle on the Internet in Cuba

I have a Cuban Internet circle on Google Plus. If you are a Google Plus member, let me know and I will add you to it.