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Avoiding Google's "Inline Revisions"

Milly [PersonRank 10]

Thursday, August 17, 2006
11 years ago3,315 views

Firstly, I should make clear what "Inline Revisions" are, since they're similar to a number of result-dickering features.

They are the three (usually) replacement results, interjected (usually) at third place in the SERPs, in a boxed section headed "See results for: [some slightly different search terms]".

Matt Cutts describes and pictures them here: mattcutts.com/blog/ui-fun-bett ... ; Philipp covered the infamous " Ashley Cole Gay" incident here: blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-0 ... ; and 'GoogleGuy' via Danny Sullivan[1] confirms they're out of beta here: forums.searchenginewatch.com/s ... .

You should be able to see them with these searches: google.com/search?q=to+be+or+n ... , and google.com/search?&q=el+do ...

Now Matt chose a great example with [to be or not to be], because the Inline Revision is sensible, helpful and appropriate. But mostly I (and reportedly many people) see completely off-the-wall and inappropriate suggestions, which merely push better results further down or off the page. Other than Matt, and Google's mother, I think they are pretty unloved.

Especially so, because they are displayed on site: searches too! If I'm searching the Google domains for [motto] google.com/search?sitesearch=g ... , am I really likely to want to see searches for [mottos] on *non-Google* domains? :-

"See results for: mottos
[...]
sprex.co m/else/sidman/motto.html
[...]
www.musicstaff.co m/lounge/mottosquotes.asp
[...]
www.yuni.co m/library/latin.html"

Or if I'm looking for [domain] on a particular site (not associated with me: I just happen to know it shows Inline Revisions) google.com/search?&sitesea ... , am I really likely to want to see searches for [domain furniture] on *different* domains? :-

"See results for: domain furniture
[...]
www.domain-home.co m/
[...]
www.domainfurniture.c o.uk/
[...]
www.stanford.e du/~jakef/furniture/domain-furniture.html"

And note that "furniture" addition again: Google also thinks if I'm searching for [el dorado] (see link above) that I might be interested in [el dorado furniture]. Why is *furniture* so popular?

Okay, so how to avoid it? Well, it seems Google's Inline Revision code is very sensitive to formatting, encoding and punctuation (or rather, non-searchable characters). For example, that [el+dorado] search linked above displays Inline Revisions (to me, it may vary with location and data centre, etc) in this format: google.com/search?&q=el+do ... , but not this format (with ?q not ?&q): google.com/search?q=el+dorado , though it will in this format (with ?q not ?&q but encoding the + as %20): google.com/search?q=el%20dorad ... . Similarly, the site: search on [motto] above displays Inline Revisions in this format: google.com/search?sitesearch=g ... , but not in this format: google.com/search?q=site:googl ... or in this: google.com/search?&q=site: ... .

That's all a bit hit or miss, of course (for example, Matt's [to be or not to be] seems to work any old way). But one way which seems guaranteed to kill it, is to add an! to the search, e.g. [to be or not to be!] google.com/search?q=to+be+or+n ...! .

So end users (who hate Inline Revisions) can simply add that to an unsatisfactory result (beginning or end of the search terms, no matter, and other funky characters work too) to dump the Inline Revision. Or, more usefully, amend their browser or toolbar or Desktop Search search fields so that it always adds it.

Webmasters who use Google for their own visitors site searches, and who don't want results to *other* domains interjected (let alone to other furniture sites), can amend the search URL accordingly. If you don't want unexpected exclamation marks confusing your visitors, then you can try the 'custom' search, which doesn't seem to have the Inline Revision code yet, e.g.: google.com/custom?&sitesea ... . (That also works for non-site: searches too, albeit that you lose the top-of-page links to other Google services: google.com/custom?&q=to%20 ...). The new(ish) Accessible search always stymies them, and for site: searches the weighting for accessible pages should make much difference: google.com/u/accessible?cx=acc ... .

So there it is: an interesting (I hope) tip, if not a very practical one :)

[1] BTW, somewhat bizarrely, Danny also ran a 'Suggest A Name' poll for them, resulting in a big majority for "Related Results": forums.searchenginewatch.com/s ... , though that name has long-established (and distinctly different) search engine connotations. And besides, the "Inline Revisions" name is right there in the Google page code, and in the URLs if you click the "See results for:" links!

Milly [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Oops, I meant : "The new(ish) Accessible search always stymies them, and for site: searches the weighting for accessible pages should NOT make much difference"

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Interesting insights! I'm getting inline revisions for all of your El Dorado sample URLs, by the way...

Milly [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Yeah, now I'm getting them for all those El Dorado samples too.

And it seems it's just you and me who find it interesting ;)

Oh well, I'll bury a couple more obscure, only very marginally useful tips here too :-

If you don't login to an Account to search, and begrudge seeing the "Sign in" link at the top-right of every Google page, then you can make it disappear. Just format your search (manually, or more usefully within your browser/toolbar search field, if it's editable) like this (thus squeezing in an extra line of precious screen real estate) :-

google.c o m/search?output=!&q= (or click: google.com/search?output=!&q=imilly)

And yes, doing that also kills Inline Revisions! : google.com/search?output=!&q=el+dorado

You can replace the exclamation mark with just about anything: google.com/search?output=hello ... , though why bother? Spam or phishing, perhaps : google.com/search?output=Googl ...!&q=imilly

If you use Google to provide your visitors with a site search (google.com/searchcode.html), the boilerplate URL is typically in this form: google.com/custom?q=milly& ...

But you can subvert a genuine "output=" format to make it different: google.com/search?output=googl ...

There's no count of results, and it 'wrongly' says "Searched About Google pages for". But there's also no top ad for Google services, nor AdSense Sponsored Links, nor Inline Revisions potentially pointing your visitors to other (perhaps competitor) sites.

You can even use that format for ultra 'clean' web results (no links to other Google searches, no sign in, no ads): google.com/search?output=googl ...

Like I said, obscure and not very useful :)

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