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May 2, 2013

Artificial Google Suggestions

The suggestions that are diplayed when you type a Google search query are useful most of the time. Google tries to finish your query and suggests some popular queries that start with the keywords you've typed.

Sometimes Google also shows suggestions from web pages and many of them are pretty long and verbose. They look artificial because it's unlikely that many users typed them. Google compiles a list of popular n-grams from web pages and includes them in the list of Google Instant suggestions. You'll find page titles, excerpts from Wikipedia articles and press releases, but also incomplete suggestions that don't make any sense.

It's easy to spot these artificial suggestions: type a long query until Google no longer shows suggestions, type more keywords and Google will suddenly show long suggestions.

Here are some of them:

In the last example I've searched for ["the * why it's inaccurate"] and started to type a new word after "the", when I saw these absurdly detailed suggestions. If you search for [why would it be inaccurate], Google shows a single suggestion: [why would it be inaccurate to speak of an nacl molecule]. You need to type [why would it be inaccurate to call t] to see this suggestion: [why would it be inaccurate to call the pituitary gland the master gland of the body]. This long phrase can't be found in any web page, but it shows up because Google merges various word sequences.

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