Should we expect more spelling corrections in search results?

Should we expect more spelling corrections in search results? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: Let’s have a question from Florida. Marjy in Boca Raton asks, “Recently, Google has been more proactive in providing results that feature “corrected” spellings. In what way will smart guesses be employed in search results in the future? Can we expect more synonyms in search results, for example?” Well, I think, you know, as we look forward, you get more and more users. Some of those users are not savvy, and some of those users don’t always spell well. So, you know, one figure that I’ve heard is, you know, if you look at random queries, something like 10% of them might be misspelled. And when we realized just how many queries were misspelled, that’s why we decided to write–in my opinion, is one of the world’s best Spellcheckers. But the fact is, even if you do that, even if you have, like, a huge Click Through on “Did you mean,” there are always some people who didn’t realize that it was there. And so, we have introduced a change recently where we will spell it correct what we think is the right answer for, you know, one or two results and then we’ll show the normal answers down below. So if you’re a user who just didn’t know how to spell it correctly, that really helps you out a lot. And in fact, it helps Web spam out a little bit as well because people who are just doing typos and misspellings, you know, the regular users don’t stumble on that sort of spam as much, they stumble on the good results first. Now, if you really, really are a power user and there are a ton of people who are, you can always put a plus before words to sort of say, “This is the exact word I meant to search for.” You can even put it in double quotes and you can also put those double quotes even on a single word. So there are lots of ways to tell Google, “No, this is exactly what I meant to search for.” We try to be smart. So, you know, if somebody types something that looks like it’s a misspelling, but it’s not, we’ll try to figure that out over time. So, it’s not the case that, you know, we roll out something and, okay, and we never make any more changes for the next several years. Instead, we try to come up with something that’s pretty reasonable, that works well for the vast majority of users. Power users can still have those Escape Hatch, you know, the plus sign or the double quotes. And then if we do make mistakes, we try to figure out what we can do to improve it in the next generation of our algorithms or in the next time that we push out new data for the Spell Correcting Code. So, I think we do a pretty good job about that. We’re always open to more suggestions, ways that we could improve the interface. But that’s probably–I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue to improve how we use spell corrections to help out regular users who don’t want to learn, you know, the intricacies of search engines who are probably not watching this video. They just want to get where they want to go as quickly as possible.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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