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Google On User Intent in Search Queries

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In the latest installment from Google about search quality, the topic du jour is user intent. Google Fellow Amit Singhal is at the helm of the Official Google blog again and wrote about efforts Google makes to help searchers find what they're looking for.

Singhal writes, "Search in the last decade has moved from give me what I said to give me what I want." I guess that depends on who you ask. Perhaps the search engines have approached it this way, but users have always been in the give me what I want column. Either way, today it's all about what searchers want.

Using the example of kofee annan, Singhal says Google knows a searcher is really looking for Kofi Annan, and will prompt the searcher as such. However, in a query for kofee beans, Google knows that the searcher is looking for coffee beans. Basically, Google isn't a spelling-monger.

Singhal also says that Google knows when Dr means doctor and when it means drive, and that searching for new york times square church is a search for an actual church and not something in the New York Times.

Understanding user intent is also something that drives Google's initiatives in both personalized and universal search.

Finally, Singhal introduces Cross Language Information Retrieval (CLIR). The technology allows searchers to discover information in a language other than the one they're searching in and use Google's translation technology to access it.

What do you think about Google's understanding of user intent? Leave a comment and let us know!


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