Google has been a search engine that has been driving our quest for answers for the past 21 years. Google is synonymous with our desire to get information on the go ever since. It’s been a such a dominant force on the internet that it has even spawned its own verb in the English language and most people’s go-to whenever they have any question that they need an answer to.
And even though the company itself has gone on to other things like operating systems and browsers, its foundation and origins will always be placed in its search engine beginnings. But now Google will step that searching up a notch even more as the company has announced arguably its most important search engine update ever since it got started.
The new change (which was announced in a new blog post) will see Google now understand all the words you type into a search box and instead of removing small words like “at”, “the”, “to” and “for”, use them to better understand the context of a question, and hopefully be able to provide you with a better answer. All with the aid of the magic that is known as machine learning:
While we’ve continued to improve our language understanding capabilities over the years, we sometimes still don’t quite get it right, particularly with complex or conversational queries.
In the blog post by Google Search fellow and vice president Pandu Nayak then provides a use case of how this will work:
The query in the search box above is asking Google if a Brazilian traveller planning to travel to the USA needs a visa in 2019. In the pre-update result on the left, Google misunderstood the search term, and displayed an irrelevant result – Google thinks you’re wondering about visa requirements to go to Brazil as a US traveller, while with the new update Google understands that you’re a Brazilian traveller asking about visa requirements for travelling to the US in 2019.
The blog provided another example of a question about a pharmacy where the “can you” aspect of the question changes the context of Google search algorithms entirely.
It’s a big change for Google and one that will make them provide even more accurate answers to questions, even though they were frightfully good at it. And all this without a blip in performance through the magic sauce that is their search algorithms. Though when asking Google if the Springboks can beat England this coming weekend, it gave me an article about how bookies have tipped England to be the favourites. So even with the update, Google still gets some answers wrong.
Last Updated: October 28, 2019