Google suggest beta

Friday 10 December 2004

Those clever devils at Google have done it again: Google Suggest is just like regular Google, but it auto-completes your search terms as you type, complete with an indication of how many hits the search will get.

This could lead to a whole new form of self-Googling: How many characters of your name do you have to type before you are the suggested search term? I have to type "ned bat".

And as is usual with Google, it isn't clear how they decide what to show. For example, after typing "ned bat", the suggested list is:

ned batchelder 59,900 results
ned bath and beyond 23,100 results
ned batey  
ned bath beyond 11,900 results
ned batchelder atari 2600 17 results
ned bates 94,300 results

Why those suggestions, and why in that order? It isn't alphabetical, and it isn't by the number of search results. "ned batey" has no prediction of search results, but searching on it shows 660 results, which is more than the absurdly specific "ned batchelder atari 2600", so why is the right-hand blank for "ned batey"?

Update: Simon Willison has a short piece about some of the browser technology that makes it work.

Comments

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Simon 10:14 AM on 10 Dec 2004

I see it won't complete porn ...

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John H 12:30 PM on 10 Dec 2004

I'm guessing 'Ned Batey' is marked as a mis-spelling (aka "Did you mean...") for Ned Beatty.

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Jordan 3:24 PM on 10 Dec 2004

I had rather assumed that it presented you with the most popular searches that begin with whatever you typed in, in order of popularity.

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andrew 7:14 PM on 10 Dec 2004

The XMLHttpRequest technology that makes this tick is what is being used in the current gmail "type ahead" feature (that rocks, BTW). Yahoo recently went into clone mode and did their own version of it. Web-based email interfaces have gotten their first quantum leap in a long time.

[gravatar]
[m] 7:54 PM on 12 Dec 2004

The list is probably sorted by highest pagerank, like normal searches.

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bill mill 11:06 PM on 12 Dec 2004

I don't get any google love at all. Bill Clinton and William Shakespeare are among the luminaries stealing my name thunder. Various combinations of Bill Miller's bbq searches keep me shut out of the list. I was excited when I made #1 for Bill Mill, so I guess now I have something new to shoot for.

[gravatar]
Rock 8:15 AM on 18 Dec 2004

I get to "rocky ol" before my name is popped to the top (with a heart-stopping 639,000 results!!)

Very kewl...

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Bob Balaban 6:07 PM on 19 Dec 2004

I had to go to bob bala, and the results page mingled my Looseleaf site with various references to the actor of the same name. Not too shabby.

The big question is: how transportable is this technology to apps other than google's?

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