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When Google's "Did You Mean" Pushes Away Better Results  (View post)

Dylan Bennett [PersonRank 1]

Thursday, January 29, 2009
5 years ago18,645 views

The worst "did you mean" error I've run across...


mboffin.com/stuff/blackchildre ...



Not quite the answer that web developer was looking for.

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Even if they don't provide a way to turn it off, they could at least provide a link by the "Did you mean..." so you could select "No" and over time (as many people choose no), it could learn that someone typing in emotionml is not interested in getting results for emotion and that it wasn't a typo.

That way they could distinguish typos from legitimate searches and results, and not provide the alternate spelling when something legitimate is typed.

Better still would be some kind of "exact text" operator which overrides the check for misspellings.

Chris Davis [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

[put at-character here]niraj – that's a fantastic idea, I hope they do that. However, I imagine that they already collect data on whether people are clicking the "Did you mean" link or results, so they probably will learn it over time anyway. Your idea would still be nice for personalized search though.

Avrohom Eliezer Friedman (AEF) [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Wow – I was thinking about this 10 minutes before I saw the article.

I work for a school whose initials are YTCTEAM (Yeshiva Toras Chaim/Toras Emes Academy of Miami) and we are curently working on a web site. So I googled ytcteam (which I've done many times before) but now it gives me this


ytcteam.googlepages.com/google ...



It dropped me down – a good 1/4 of a page.

Beautiful. lol

Motti [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

[put at-character here]Niraj It's much easier to detect by legitimate typos by detecting how often people click on the actual SERP results, despite the "did you mean" suggestion.

Nick (mouseover.be) [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

I search often in Dutch and then I get English search results of 'typos' but I use correct Dutch words. Not ok :)

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

I was thinking about this an hour ago when searching for something, and now it's a blog post...

sjcm? have you been stealing my thoughts and putting them in Philipp's dreams?

Martin Huard [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

This is even worst when google suggest something else when you search for your company name! We worked hard to get an high ranking, and all we can get is the 3rd place, since the 2 firsts are unrelated suggestions!

This feature need some rework from google.

- Martin

Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

What drives me mad sometimes is that Google recently started silently removing keywords from queries, when it thinks that some keywords are "not necessary".

Example:
[tivoli tsm port 43307] gives different result


wanted.eu.org/pub/google-silen ...



than [tivoli tsm port +43307]:


wanted.eu.org/pub/google-silen ...



There is no indication on the page that keyword "43307" was removed from the query, but if you click results from the first example you'll not find "43307" in them.

Now I have to guess whether Google has silently removed some of my keywords and prefix them with plus.

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

None the less it also does a good job quite often, but it should realize whether or not to show the top two results, not sure how exactly they should determine this... but in essence – the did you mean function – is one of the things I like about google search most.

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

[put at-character here]Marcin Sochacki (Wanted): Just a scenario where thats great is when you quickly copy an error message without caring about linenummers and file names etc. (Even though I got frustrated by it sometimes as well)

noname [PersonRank 4]

5 years ago #

i agree that this is stupid, and i think the sollution is very simple – they just need to consider the amount of results on original query and their distribution – if the query got enough results and they are distributed so that it is clear it is not just a typo (e.g. more then once per page, on many pages etc.), then they should not give this "hint". And if they are just not sure, they can show only "if you mean" without special results.
P.S.: but on the other hand it is not so problematic – it doesn!t mean you loose visitors because you are on the third possition, the visitors will simply jump over the first two because of snippetsk, and if they click on them by mistake, they will go back and click on you. So the only problem is that Google looks stupid and that's their private problem

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Marcin writes:
> There is no indication on the page that keyword
> "43307" was removed from the query, but if you click
> results from the first example you'll not find "43307"
> in them.

But how can you be sure Google ignored that word? After all, as we know Google often "attaches" a keyword to a page if someone else uses it as link text when pointing to that page. In those cases, the word itself doesn't necessarily have to be in the respective page. As an example, when you search for "blogscoped" (note the missing "o") the top URL will be blogoscoped.com, and when you click on the Cache link, Google disclaims: "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: blogscoped"

I'm not saying Google doesn't quietly drop words, I don't know, just want to see if we have some way to verify...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

David:
> None the less it also does a good job quite often, but
> it should realize whether or not to show the top two
> results, not sure how exactly they should
> determine this

Yeah, they can't really simply say "do a lot of people who search for XYZ actually mean XYB?" Because that would hurt the "long tail" of all those exotic, one time searches, IMO. It would become an overgeneralizing Google losing usefulness to a whole lot of less mainstream searches. How they already start to get this wrong these days is shown by the examples above.

> but in essence – the did you mean function – is one
> of the things I like about google search most.

Yeah, but it's also useful when it just shows as a suggestion you need to click on. The examples here are using the more aggressive version of this... directly replacing your top links.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Google could use a plusbox that hides a preview of the top X results.

"Did you mean: [xxxx]? Preview the results..."

Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp:
I've seen it many times in so complicated examples, that it's highely unlikely someone would use this keyword combination in URL. Plus, I started noticing this behavior since about two months or so.

While it is sometimes useful to drop extra keywords to broaden the results, it would be nice to display the appropriate warning in that case.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Google in their cache says "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: tsm 43307". Of course they could be lying...

Snozzwanger [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

Marcin writes:
> There is no indication on the page that keyword "43307" was removed from the query

Philipp Lenssen writes:
>But how can you be sure Google ignored that word? After all, ... >{{blahblahblah}} ..
>I'm not saying Google doesn't quietly drop words, I don't know, just >want to see if we have some way to verify...

This is simple, kids. From Marcin's original post, reference please the image below. Note the differences in the circled text, clearly indicating which words Google searched and which words Google deemed irrelevant and deleted from your search.


freeimagehosting.net/uploads/8 ...



Yes it is frustrating as hell, no argument from me. When taken on top of "Did you mean?" morphing from a helpful line of text to half my screen full of crap bumping down the search results I actually want, frankly I'm quite worried. Always been a Google advocate since day one, and always believed. Not so much today.

Who has taken over at Google and imposed their personal belief that they know better than me (and you) on the company? "You asked me to search Bankski but I know you *really* meant Richard Kincaid so here you go: page after page of paintings with light!". Why do I randomly discover "Safe results are on" when I repeatedly turn them off? Why in gmail can I not reply to an email Google decided was spam? Why do I have to mark it "Not Spam" then move it to the in box then switch to the in box then re-open the email then hit reply again JUST TO REPLY TO MY EMAIL?
Google's changed, and it's not a good thing.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

> This is simple, kids. From Marcin's original post, reference
> please the image below. Note the differences in the circled
> text, clearly indicating which words Google searched and
> which words Google deemed irrelevant and deleted from
> your search.

Nope. The link just means the word is in the Answers.com dictionary (hence linked to Answers.com). In above example, "tsm" and "43307" are not words found in the dictionary, whereas "tivoli" and "port" are.

George R [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Searching [emotionml] is not now showing "Did you mean emotion" or their entries.

google.com/search?hl=en&q= ...

George R [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

I am not getting consistent results. It may be server dependant.

72.14.207.99/search?q=emotionml&btnG=Google+Search

72.14.207.99/search?q=emotionm ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

I'm now not getting any "did you mean" for the query [emotionml].

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

I suppose Google manually ran their "did you mean" automated correction script, which is so resource-intensive that they can only run it five times a year.

J. McNair [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Bah.

Bad Google. No cookie. I personally prefer the "two tiered" approach from earlier allowing me to choose whether I want what I searched for or what Google thinks I searched for.

Anybody figured out Google's stance on this? Can we get an off switch if we are signed in and use Search Wiki?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

> I suppose Google manually ran their "did you mean"
> automated correction script

Heh. I was also wondering if by reporting on it, the "emotionml usage" threshold got pushed up by some bits, causing Google's algo to think it's a "real" word. For instance I'm now getting 24 results for the Google query ["I've entered emotionml trying to find more info about the World Wide Web"] (being a quote from the post). On the other hand that is still not much, so I'm not saying that's likely to have been the cause!

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

As a developer, I often use Google to search for snippets and some help, so my queries often are functions names. So since 1 month or more I get the "dead you mean" feature at least 15 times by day, and I can certify that yes, I was wrong and made a misspell, **only one time**. So it is not relevant at all for me.

So please Google, let us opt-out of that. I could use SearchWiki but deleted all the result one by one is useless and exhausting.

Martyn P [PersonRank 1]

5 years ago #

I know this sounds a bit picky, but I don't like the way there isn't a question mark after "did you mean". I'm a bit of a grammar freak, and I think that if something's a question it should have a question mark. It reads wrong in my head otherwise.

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

To start with I thought it was good, now I hate it :P


cheesemonger32.googlepages.com ...

Reinier Meijer [PersonRank 1]

5 years ago #

When you filter a query on domain (for example: site:com), you don't get "Did you mean" results.

Compare:
query: applestt site:com
google.com/search?num=10&c ...

query: applestt
google.com/search?complete=1&a ...

I agree "Did you mean" results are annoying.

George R [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Using microsoft's live search for [emotionml] includes "emotional", which pushes "emotionml" beyond the first page (i.e. first ten results).
It does provide a link to search [+emotionml] for just "emotionml".
It also provides a link to search [emotional].

[emotionml] search.live.com/results.aspx?q ...

[+emotionml] search.live.com/results.aspx?q ...

[emotional] search.live.com/results.aspx?q ...

Julie Gallaher [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

I agree – it's very annoying. My names is Gallaher not Gallagher and I don't appreciate Google implying that I've spelled my own name wrong.

George R [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Searching [emotionml] is again showing "Did you mean emotion" and its entries.

google.com/search?hl=en&q= ...

see: [Up] blogoscoped.com/forum/149523.h ...

R Shaw [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

Yes, Google has made a mistake with the result snippets cluttering up a major chunk at the top of the page. The previous single "Did you mean?" line with link was a very good feature, but the full entries are in-your-face annoying. The search people should remove the "I know you meant" entries. If they won't do that for everyone, at least they should allow logged-in users to set a preference to avoid them.

muri [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

when google "pushes away better result"that means "destroying "my ranking visibility into smaller one,so far I found no problem with google until it came that new script install and I feel complaint cause it also impact my new company site.

[URL removed – Tony]

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

5 years ago #

Another bad case – when new words or new sites appear:


blogoscoped.com/files/did-you- ...



Google search starting to feel dumb?

Ajay Garg [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

[moved from "Did you Mean on Google?"]

This is crazy. Everytime I search for the word TheMusicAge, it shows a did you mean for the website TheMusicPage...

Clearly, I am trying to search for TheMusicAge.

I wonder why TheMusicPage has more value than TheMusicAge?

www.themusicage.com

Please provide feedback, I am curious :)

SuezanneC Baskerville [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

I don't like the Did You Mean results. I wish I could turn them off. I wish the other search engine companies would make pages with just text ads, then I might use them instead of Google.

The Did You Mean wouldn't be so bad if was over on the sidebar instead of on top of what you were really looking for.

The vast bulk of the time, for me, the Did You Mean results are useless.

Snufkin [PersonRank 0]

5 years ago #

I use a program called Gamess and I search a lot to find information about it. As you imagine I get "Did you mean games" and thousands of irrelevant pages. Can anybody suggest different search engine without these annoying improvements?

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