Alexa, a company that monitors commercial web traffic, lists Google as the most visited website in the world. Here are some amazing and interesting facts about the latter’s search capabilities. Over 1 billion search requests per day are handled by Google, the Menlo Park, California-based firm. It is done by using over 1 million computers. “There are trillions of searches on Google every year. In fact, 15% of searches on Google Search every day are new—which means there’s always a need for constant improvement in the system and algorithms to present users with the best answers to their queries from a wide variety of legitimate sources,” says Ben Gomes, vice-president, engineering, Google.
In a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, Google is working to constantly improve the quality of search. It recently announced key updates to its algorithms and introduced additional features to address the challenges with locating relevant from the most reliable sources available. The internet company has made structural changes in search that include improvements in search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how search works.
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Google’s algorithms help identify reliable sources from the hundreds of billions of pages in the search index. To help prevent the spread of offensive or clearly misleading content, Google has improved its evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates that surface more authoritative content. As part of the process, Google is taking feedback from real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results and give their feedback on our experiments. These ratings don’t determine individual page rankings, but are used to help them gather data on the quality of our results and identify areas for improvement.
Google uses hundreds of signals to determine which results are shown for a given query—from the freshness of the content, to the number of times user search queries appear on the page. These signals have been adjusted to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content.
Direct feedback tools
According to Gomes, Google has always aimed to speed up the process of finding information, which has led to features like Autocomplete (that predicts searchers you may be typing) and Featured Snippets (that shows a highlight of relevant information.) Although the content that appears in these features is generated algorithmically and is a reflection of what people are searching for and what’s available on the web, they can sometimes lead to results that are unexpected, inaccurate or offensive. “Now, it will be easier to flag such content that appears in both Autocomplete and Featured Snippets. These new feedback mechanisms have clearly labeled categories to enable users to directly report such content while using Search,” he adds.
To bring greater transparency, Google recently updated its How Search Works site to provide more information to users and website owners about the technology behind Search. The site includes a description of how Google ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of pages to return your results, as well as an overview of its user testing process.