How Does Google Work?

I don’t know how Google works. I applied for a job as an editor there, but decided that they weren’t right for me.* So I guess I’ll never know.

Today, as a sort of joke having nothing to do with Google, I created a foreign sounding phrase, and posted it as a comment on a friend’s blog post.

Then, just for kicks, I searched Google to see if it would come up with anything on my phrase. Not surprisingly, it didn’t.

But it DID have a question. I’m sure we’ve all seen this before: Google asked me whether maybe I meant to spell one of my search items a little differently. Here’s what they said:



So, sure, I decided to give that a go. Did it then find something based on that new, suggested phrase?

Nope. Here’s what I got:



Now, what’s going on there? What brought on the first suggestion, which obviously had no search results associated with it?

And, if it has no problem suggesting random, worthless changes, why stop there? Why not keep suggesting changes?

I’m confused.

* They rejected me after a phone interview.

8 Responses to How Does Google Work?

  1. BruceS January 14, 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    The engine looked at the words you typed in, checked against their dictionary, and looked for similar patterns (likely mistypes). They found that, while “poiska” isn’t in their dictionary, “poiskah” is. The suggested replacement is done without regard for the other words.

  2. weeklyrob January 14, 2008 at 9:00 pm #

    Hey thanks! That makes sense. I wonder how they build their dictionary (i.e., word list). Based on searches, I bet, since there’s no way that someone built a dictionary by hand which includes the word poiskah (which seems to be a transliteration of the Russian word for Search).

  3. BruceS January 15, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    You’re welcome. I don’t know how they build the dictionary—general search, title words, etc.—but it probably involves expanding on a basic dictionary using some page searching with weighting by count. Maybe someone else here has some insight.

    I’m not a real expert, but I play one on Internet.

  4. JB January 15, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    Personally, I’d like it if they “presearched” their suggestions, even though that would double the load on their server. But maybe they could make it a “light” search– like my browser does when I type in its search box. It pops up search terms similar to what I’ve typed in, and I KNOW I haven’t tried them before so it’s not a history. It’s actually looking up what I type to see if anyone else has searched for that. Why the Google home page doesn’t have this feature, I dunno, and why it suggests things that have no results, I dunno, but it should and it shouldn’t, respectively.

  5. Mom January 16, 2008 at 7:52 pm #

    Obviously there are some glitches at Google- rejecting you after one phone call -Harrumph- silly Google- their loss – mine as well since you would have moved closer to me.
    Would you believe that my Board doesn’t like Google docs? Thinks they are too complicated.

  6. weeklyrob January 17, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    Your board seems to have some glitches, too.

  7. Kevin November 25, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    Hey, just because I post a comment on one of your entries that’s almost a year old doesn’t mean this is spam!

    I was reading XKCD today and it didn’t have a new comic, so I hit “random” and got this one:

    Which of course reminded me of your post on the subject, so I felt it my duty to link them together so that the Internet will know for all time that they are related.

    I will continue working to organize the Internet in this way because I might need to find something one day and I don’t want to forget where I put it. It would be cool if some company would index the whole Internet so I could find stuff without having to link everything together myself.

  8. weeklyrob November 25, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    I’m on it!

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