Live From Google: Searchology

Michael Arrington
Tuesday, May 12, 2009; 9:10 AM

Searchology is a periodic state of the union for Google search (here's the last one), and we're here on the ground to see the announcements live.

Less than a month ago the company rolled out major new News and Image search products at a similar press event in San Francisco.

My live notes are below:

First up is Vice President of Core Search, Udi Manber.

He says the 20th century dream was to conquer nature (dams, roads, airplanes, rockets). The 21st centure will be about understanding people (health, communication, education, knowledge). Search is a big part of it, possibly leading the way, he says.

Whatever the user problem, Google needs to fix it. Connection speed, language, etc. Manber is talking about fine tuning search more than anything, including things like bringing weather, sports, flight information, maps and other information into search appropriately to answer questions. Translation of information on the fly is also a key issue.

We've made a lot of progress, and you'll see some more today," he says.

Next up: Pat Riley, senior search quality engineer. His presentation is called "Making "Did you mean?" even better. He's talking about the did you mean link at Google and how they've improved it.

Example: query for "labor" could mean work, department of labor or childbirth.

Adding spelling to the product to help users. Someone types ipodd, for example. Google suggest ipod instead. In the background Google is sending the incorrect and correct query to the back end to process queries. An alternative solution is to ask the user first and make them click a link, which results in less stress on Google.

Next up is Scott Huffman, Director of Engineering, talking about Mobile Search. Search needs to be fast, relevant, comprehensive and fresh, he says. You should expect all these things on your mobile device too, he says.

Mobile search is growing faster than PC search, he says. It's the primary way some people access the Internet. And it is inherently local, knows where you are and is with you wherever you are. But there is a challenge with devices - there are hundreds of them with widely varying capabilities. Search is generally difficult to use. Keys are small, or no keys at all.

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