Google is starting to tell you how it found Search results


Reuters 22 July, 2021 - 12:46pm 26 views

July 22 (Reuters) - Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) Google will now show its search engine users more information about why it found the results they are shown, the company said on Thursday.

It said people googling queries will now be able to click into details such as how their result matched certain search terms, in order to better decide if the information is relevant.

Google has been making changes to give users more context about the results its search engine provides. Earlier this year it introduced panels to tell users about the sources of the information they are seeing. It has also started warning users when a topic is rapidly evolving and search results might not be reliable.

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Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) Google will now show its search engine users more information about why it found the results they are shown, the company said on Thursday.

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Google's latest Search change offers a peek behind the curtain

Android Police 22 July, 2021 - 02:16pm

Google Search is so ubiquitous and indispensable, the company's very name is used as a verb that describes the act. No actual human being "Bings" something, but we've all done a bit of "Googling" in our time. And though we might all still complain about specific results, it's become incredibly, almost unbelievably good at what it does. My own daily research for this very job would take a whole lot longer without it. Now Google is rolling out some changes to the About This Result feature that better describe precisely why you see what you do in a given search, exposing the machinations behind something we probably all take for granted.

The change builds on the About This Result feature, which rolled out earlier this year to better help you understand and vet information sources that appear in Search. At the time, it only showed you information about the linked site, pulling from things like Wikipedia and Google's own index to explain the provenance and history of the venue. But, starting today, it's expanding to show you a whole lot more information.

The new feature will explain if a given result was influenced by things like your current location, things you've looked at recently, and commonly related terms — or if it even just comes down to keywords. Often there's a lot more to it than that, but Search can reveal those sorts of details, so you better understand a given result's connection to your query. And, even better, this can give you the sort of feedback to get better at the act of Googling.

On top of explaining "why" you see what you do, the new details will also provide tips about improving your searches. Tap some of those explanations behind why results appeared if any of them didn't jibe with what you expected, and Google will explain how to modify your search to better control that aspect of it. That can be as simple as figuring out your language settings or as complicated as learning some of Google's super-powerful semi-hidden commands.

Google Search is a powerful but sometimes inscrutable tool, and changes like these can make its seemingly arcane abilities a little less mysterious — though probably nothing will ever entirely eliminate that suspicion that it's somehow spying on you when it results are simply too perfect. At least most of us have forgotten what it's like to go to the second page of results.

Google will add more context to search results

Axios 22 July, 2021 - 01:58pm

Google on Thursday said it's rolling out a new feature called the "About This Result panel," which will give users more context about their search results, and help them find the most useful information.

Why it matters: The update gives everyday users much more visibility into how Google's search algorithm works.

Details: Beginning in the U.S. this week, users will see a small button that looks like three horizontal dots on the right-hand side of almost all search results. When clicked, it will show a pop-up with additional information.

Yes, but: Google concedes that there can be risks associated with bringing more transparency to search results, primarily bad actors using the information to better game the search algorithm.

What's next: The update rolls out incrementally in the U.S. starting this week and will roll out globally in the future.

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Google's 'About this result' panel will explain why each link appeared in your search

9to5Google 22 July, 2021 - 01:08pm

At the start of this year, Google introduced an “About this result” panel to learn about the sites that appear in Search. That feature will now tell you why you’re seeing a specific result.

In addition to information about the “Source” publication — namely a Wikipedia description, you will soon see a “Your search & this result” card at the bottom of “About this result” when you tap the overflow menu on web and desktop.

Google is surfacing “some of these most important factors used” by Search to show results, specifically four:

Matching keywords: A simple, but important, factor Google uses to determine if information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search. 

Related terms: Google also looks for terms that our systems determined are related to the words in your query. If you search “how to cook fish in the oven,” we’ll also look for pages that have related terms like “bake” and “recipe.” 

Looking at links: When other pages link to a page using similar words as your query, that page might be relevant to your search. It can also be a helpful indicator of whether online content creators tend to regard the page as useful for that topic.

Local relevance: Our systems also look at factors like the language you’re using to search as well as your country and location, to deliver content relevant for your area. For example, if you search “What day is trash pickup?” it’s helpful to get results that are applicable to your city or state.

The company sees this information as helping users “decide what result is useful for them,” and that it’s also used to imbue useful Search tips on how to refine your query.

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Google’s "about this result" feature will now show why you got your specific search results

The Verge 22 July, 2021 - 12:03pm

A look behind the curtain at how Google search works

The company added the “about this result” information box earlier this year as a way to help users properly vet sources that they weren’t familiar with using data sourced from Wikipedia. The menu — accessed by clicking the triple dots at the corner of a search result— pops up and tries to provide additional background information about a website.

The update that’s rolling out today, though, doesn’t add more context about websites that might appear in search results, but rather helps shine a light inward on Google’s algorithm and how it links search terms to specific sites.

In an example provided by Google, a search for “how to cook fish in the oven” lands on a recipe from a site that included the words “how, cook, fish, and oven” and were related to other terms like “ingredients” and “recipe.” Google also does things like matching language and applying relevant geographic locations to help land on the specific result.

The updated results should be rolling out to users now. To start, it’ll be available for English language results in the US, but Google hopes to expand availability in the coming months.

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Google Expands ‘About This Result’ With Info On Ranking Factors

Search Engine Journal 22 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

Google is expanding the ‘About This Result’ panel with information about what factors went into ranking a page in search results.

Starting today, when viewing an About This Result panel, searchers will get even more information about the results they’re seeing to help them make sense of which one might be most useful.

That’s what it offers to regular searchers, but to SEOs it offers unique insight into which ranking factors went into surfacing a given page for a given query.

Here’s an example of an updated About This Result panel for the query “how to cook fish in the oven”:

Underneath the “Your search & this result” heading you can see why a page was ranked for that query.

In the example above Google surfaced that specific page due to the following factors:

In addition to highlighting matching terms, related terms, and local relevance, the updated About This Result panel can also display information about inbound links.

Here’s another example where you can see the panel telling the searcher: “Other websites with your search terms link to this result.”

The header image of this article shows another version of an About This Result panel, which mentions the page’s images were used as a relevance factor.

Google’s pitch to searchers is that this information can be used to refine one’s query to get better results.

For everyday users this panel offers techniques and settings that can be used to modify searches to get more relevant webpages.

“For example, if you usually search in English, but want to find results in a different language, or from a different region, About This Result makes it even easier to adjust your settings.

You may even want to adjust your search. Imagine you search for “best jogging shoes.” While it’s usually helpful for Google to return results about related concepts, in this case “running shoes,” you’re really after shoes that are optimized for jogging.

About This Result will show you tips for how you can get to what you really wanted. For example, you can put quotes around a word or phrase to get results that mention those words exactly, or use a minus sign to exclude certain words from your search.”

For marketers and SEOs, this panel offers an interesting look into how Google determines relevance on a per-result basis.

Prior to today’s update, About This Result only displayed information about the content source and whether the website’s connection was secure. Now it contains a wealth of data about relevance signals.

This expansion is now live for 10% of eligible users and will gradually roll out to 100%. The expanded panels are available in English in the U.S. to start, with plans for a wider rollout in the coming months.

Source: Google

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Google now shows why it ranked a specific search result

Search Engine Land 22 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

Google can now list several of the factors or reasons why it ranked a specific search result in its search results listings, the company announced. This feature is an expansion to the about this result box that launched in February 2021.

Google Search can show the terms it matched on the web page and your query, including the terms that were related but not direct matches. Google also lists if links from other websites influenced the ranking, if the results had related images, if there were geographical reasons for the result ranking and more. In fact, Google said there are several factors this section can disclose when it comes to why Google ranked a specific page in its search results.

Google also lists search tips in this area to help you refine your query, if you find the result to not meet your desired outcome.

What it looks like. Here is a screen shot of what this looks like. As you can see in the “your search & this result” section, Google lists numerous bullet points for why it ranked this specific snippet. The section above, the “source” section is old and that was launched in February, as mentioned above.

What factors does Google show. Google did not tell us all the factors it shows but here are the ones I spotted while testing:

Search tips. Google will also let searchers hover their mouse cursor over the underlined words in this box to get search tips on how to narrow their search results better. In the screenshot below, you can see Google suggesting the search may want to add a minus sign to the word running in order to filter out those words in their search.

Google can offer a number of search tips that are specific to the query and the “about this result” box for that page.

Rolling out now. Google is now rolling this out in the U.S. for English results. By the time this story goes live, we expect it to be visible in 10% of the US based queries but by next week in about 100% of queries in the US. Google said it will expand this to more countries and languages overtime.

Google would not say how many searchers actually use this “about this result” feature but clearly Google is investing it expanding its feature set. Google did say the about this result feature has been viewed hundreds of millions of times but would not share what percentage of users have used it.

Why we care. SEOs and marketers always wanted to know why Google ranked a specific site for a given query. Well, Google is now giving you pretty detailed clues into why it ranked that site for that query with this new box. Of course, this is not detailed ranking weights and signals, but it does tell you if the words match or match closely, if people link to the site, if there are geo-specific reasons and more.

From the searcher’s perspective, it might help a searcher understand why Google ranked that result and provide more trust through transparency for Google and its searchers.

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