23 Recent Changes Google Made To Give You Better Quick Answers

Chris CrumSearch

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On Friday, Google released a list of 86 changes it made to its search engine over June and July. Some of them were directly related to quality, some related to ranking, some related to mobile, some related to how it understands natural language, and others show a decreased dependency on keywords from Google's algorithms.

Many of the changes are related to the direct answer-style results Google provides for some types of queries. Each change on the list is accompanied by a related project, and the project codenamed "Answers," was the subject of 23 of the entries.

Here's what they did:

1. Google added a live result showing schedule and scores of the EURO 2012 games (European championship of national soccer teams).

2. Google improved its dictionary search feature, adding support for more natural language searches.

3. Google made changes to its calculator feature to improve recognition of queries containing "and," such as [4 times 3 and a h half]. Really, this is about natural language too.

4. Google made an unspecified improvement for showing the sunrise and sunset times feature.

5. Google added live results for NASCAR, MotoGP and IndyCar, in addition to the Forumula1 results, which were already available.

6. Google improved natural language detection for the time feature, so it can better understand queries like, "What time is it in India?"

7. Google made changes to the movie showtimes feature on mobile, improving recognition of natural language queries, as well as overall coverage.

8. Google made other improvements to the calculator feature on mobile to improve how it handles queries that contain both words and numbers (like: 4 times 3 divided by 2).

9. Google enabled natural language detection for currency conversion to better understand queries like "What is $500 in Euros?"

10. Google enabled natural language detection for the flight status feature to better understand queries about flight arrival times and status.

11. Google improved the triggering for the "when is" feature, and the understanding of queries like like "When is Mother's Day?"

12. Google made changes to the display of the weather feature.

13. Google improved natural language detection for the unit conversion feature, so it an better understand queries like "What is 5 miles in kilometers?"

14. Google changed the display of the finance feature for voice search queries on mobile.

15. Google improved natural language processing for the dictionary search feature.

16. Google changed the display of the weather search feature, so you can ask things like [weather in california] or [is it hot in italy].

17. Google improved natural language detection for the sunrise/sunset feature.

18. Google improved its detection of queries about weather.

19. Google changed the display of the local time search feature.

20. Google improved natural language detection to better understand queries about baseball and return the latest baseball info about MLB, like schedules and the latest scores.

21. Google changed the display of local business info in certain, but unspecified mobile use cases. Google says it highlights info relevant to the search (like phone numbers, hours, etc.)

22. Google improved its understanding of calculator-seeking queries.

Those were all in June.There was only one entry related to "Answers" in the July list:

23. Google made it so you could search, and find "rich, detailed" info about the latest schedule, medal counts, events and record-breaking moments for the Olympics.

Of course, these lists leave out things Google otherwise blogged about, such as Flight Search in Canada and the interactive weather visualization for tablets.

Also, just last week, Google made additional improvements to quick answers and the Knowledge Graph.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.