03 Jun 2010, Posted by admin in Featured,Google, 11 Comments
Google, for a while now, has been connecting which terms are often used together – so a term like “car” could also be connected to “car”, “van”, “motorbike” and “BMW”. This has kind of been accepted for ages, and it’s easy to see when you do a search with a tilde in front of it (so ~car bolds the words BMW, Auto and Vehicle…for example).
It’s kind of hard to prove that they actually do that in search results when the tilde isn’t there though – you can get a bit of a better idea that they’re doing it when it produces incorrect search results though.
At the moment, if you search Google for Nintendo Entertainment System Data you get electionstudies.org ranking in first and second place.
The reason is because Google has associated the query “Nintendo Entertainment System data” with the term “NES”, which it has then matched up with the American National Election Studies site, because of it also thinks that that is related to the term “NES”. It’s kind of true, both terms are related to “NES” – they’re just not related to each other which is why the search result doesn’t work.
You can see the same effect with the search Game Boy Advance Association which brings up other sites that are related to the acronym “GBA”, including the Girls Basketball Association and the Gay Business Association.
There’s a great example of the same thing when you search for British Home Stores society, bringing back completely unrelated results like the British Horse Society, the British Hypertension Society and the Belgian Hematological Society.
Of course, all of these terms are unlikely to be searched very often, I’m not suggesting that Google’s search results are broken because of it – it’s just interesting to see how Google connects different keywords from time to time. Basically, what’s happening (it would seem) is that Google is connecting together two terms that aren’t really related, usually acronyms, because they’re all connected to one main term. That sounds a bit complex when it isn’t really – so I’ll explain what I mean with a crudely drawn image. The term “Nintendo Entertainment System” is correctly connected to “NES”. “National Election Studies” is correctly connected also to the keyword “NES”, but it looks like Google has connected the terms “Nintendo Entertainment System” to “National Election Studies” incorrectly because of that.
While it’s obviously not worked on the results mentioned in this post, it’s probably produced better results overall – and it’s interesting to see that Bing and Yahoo don’t return results like this when you search for these terms. Maybe they’re not connecting terms together like Google is?
Flickr image from DizDau.