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 batchelder59,900 results
ned bath and beyond23,100 results
ned batey
ned bath beyond11,900 results
ned batchelder atari 260017 results
ned bates94,300 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.


I see it won't complete porn ...
I'm guessing 'Ned Batey' is marked as a mis-spelling (aka "Did you mean...") for Ned Beatty.
I had rather assumed that it presented you with the most popular searches that begin with whatever you typed in, in order of popularity.
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.
The list is probably sorted by highest pagerank, like normal searches.
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.
I get to "rocky ol" before my name is popped to the top (with a heart-stopping 639,000 results!!)

Very kewl...
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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