Tag Archives: Google Search

How AI is making information more useful

Today, there’s more information accessible at people’s fingertips than at any point in human history. And advances in artificial intelligence will radically transform the way we use that information, with the ability to uncover new insights that can help us both in our daily lives and in the ways we are able to tackle complex global challenges.

At our Search On livestream event today, we shared how we’re bringing the latest in AI to Google’s products, giving people new ways to search and explore information in more natural and intuitive ways.

Making multimodal search possible with MUM

Earlier this year at Google I/O, we announced we’ve reached a critical milestone for understanding information with Multitask Unified Model, or MUM for short.

We’ve been experimenting with using MUM’s capabilities to make our products more helpful and enable entirely new ways to search. Today, we’re sharing an early look at what will be possible with MUM. 

In the coming months, we’ll introduce a new way to search visually, with the ability to ask questions about what you see. Here are a couple of examples of what will be possible with MUM.

With this new capability, you can tap on the Lens icon when you’re looking at a picture of a shirt, and ask Google to find you the same pattern — but on another article of clothing, like socks. This helps when you’re looking for something that might be difficult to describe accurately with words alone. You could type “white floral Victorian socks,” but you might not find the exact pattern you’re looking for. By combining images and text into a single query, we’re making it easier to search visually and express your questions in more natural ways. 

Some questions are even trickier: Your bike has a broken thingamajig, and you need some guidance on how to fix it. Instead of poring over catalogs of parts and then looking for a tutorial, the point-and-ask mode of searching will make it easier to find the exact moment in a video that can help.

Helping you explore with a redesigned Search page

We’re also announcing how we’re applying AI advances like MUM to redesign Google Search. These new features are the latest steps we’re taking to make searching more natural and intuitive.

First, we’re making it easier to explore and understand new topics with “Things to know.” Let’s say you want to decorate your apartment, and you’re interested in learning more about creating acrylic paintings.

If you search for “acrylic painting,” Google understands how people typically explore this topic, and shows the aspects people are likely to look at first. For example, we can identify more than 350 topics related to acrylic painting, and help you find the right path to take.

We’ll be launching this feature in the coming months. In the future, MUM will unlock deeper insights you might not have known to search for — like “how to make acrylic paintings with household items” — and connect you with content on the web that you wouldn’t have otherwise found.

Second, to help you further explore ideas, we’re making it easy to zoom in and out of a topic with new features to refine and broaden searches. 

In this case, you can learn more about specific techniques, like puddle pouring, or art classes you can take. You can also broaden your search to see other related topics, like other painting methods and famous painters. These features will launch in the coming months.

Third, we’re making it easier to find visual inspiration with a newly designed, browsable results page. If puddle pouring caught your eye, just search for “pour painting ideas" to see a visually rich page full of ideas from across the web, with articles, images, videos and more that you can easily scroll through. 

This new visual results page is designed for searches that are looking for inspiration, like “Halloween decorating ideas” or “indoor vertical garden ideas,” and you can try it today.

Get more from videos

We already use advanced AI systems to identify key moments in videos, like the winning shot in a basketball game, or steps in a recipe. Today, we’re taking this a step further, introducing a new experience that identifies related topics in a video, with links to easily dig deeper and learn more. 

Using MUM, we can even show related topics that aren’t explicitly mentioned in the video, based on our advanced understanding of information in the video. In this example, while the video doesn’t say the words “macaroni penguin’s life story,” our systems understand that topics contained in the video relate to this topic, like how macaroni penguins find their family members and navigate predators. The first version of this feature will roll out in the coming weeks, and we’ll add more visual enhancements in the coming months.

Across all these MUM experiences, we look forward to helping people discover more web pages, videos, images and ideas that they may not have come across or otherwise searched for. 

A more helpful Google

The updates we’re announcing today don’t end with MUM, though. We’re also making it easier to shop from the widest range of merchants, big and small, no matter what you’re looking for. And we’re helping people better evaluate the credibility of information they find online. Plus, for the moments that matter most, we’re finding new ways to help people get access to information and insights. 

All this work not only helps people around the world, but creators, publishers and businesses as well.  Every day, we send visitors to well over 100 million different websites, and every month, Google connects people with more than 120 million businesses that don't have websites, by enabling phone calls, driving directions and local foot traffic.

As we continue to build more useful products and push the boundaries of what it means to search, we look forward to helping people find the answers they’re looking for, and inspiring more questions along the way.

Posted by Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President

Find detailed information on vaccination availability near you

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a priority within our communities, vaccines remain one of our biggest protections. Nationwide vaccination drives are in full swing, and as more people look to get vaccinated, their requirements for information continue to evolve: finding vaccine availability by location, specific information about vaccination services offered, and details on appointment availability are increasingly important to know.

In March 2021, we started showing COVID-19 vaccination centers on Google, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Starting this week, for over 13,000 locations across the country, people will be able to get more helpful information about vaccine availability and appointments -- powered by real-time data from the CoWIN APIs. This includes information such as:

  • Availability of appointment slots at each center

  • Vaccines and doses offered (Dose 1 or Dose 2)

  • Expectations for pricing (Paid or Free)

  • Link to the CoWIN website for booking

Across Google Search, Maps, and Google Assistant, now find more detailed information on vaccination availability, including vaccines and doses available, appointments and more

The above information will automatically show up when users search for vaccine centers near them, or in any specific area – across Google Search, Maps and Google Assistant. In addition to English, users can also search in eight Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, and Marathi. We will continue to partner closely with the CoWIN team to extend this functionality to all vaccination centers across India.

As people continue to seek information related to the pandemic to manage their lives around it, we remain committed to finding and sharing authoritative and timely information across our platforms.

Posted by Hema Budaraju, Director, Google Search

Helping people and businesses learn how Search works

Every day, billions of people come to Google to search for questions big and small. Whether it’s finding a recipe, looking for a local coffee shop or searching for information on complex topics like health, civics or finance, Google Search helps you get the information you need -- when you need it. 

But part of accomplishing our mission also means making information open and accessible about how Google Search, itself, works. That’s why we’re transparent about how we design Search, how we improve it and how it works to get you the information you’re looking for. 

Like many of the topics you might search for on Google, Search can seem complicated -- but we make it easy to learn about. Here are a few ways you can get a better understanding of how Google Search works:

A one-stop shop

Today, we’re launching a fully-redesigned How Search Works website that explains the ins and outs of Search -- how we approach the big, philosophical questions, along with the nitty-gritty details about how it all works. 

We first launched this website in 2016, and since then, millions of people have used it to discover more about how Search works. Now, we've updated the site with fresh information, made it easier to navigate and bookmark sections and added links to additional resources that share how Search works and answer common questions.

The website gives you a window into what happens from the moment you start typing in the search bar to the moment you get your search results. It gives an overview of the technology and work that goes into organizing the world’s information, understanding what you’re looking for and then connecting you with the most relevant, helpful information.

On the site, you can find details about how Google’s ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of web pages and other content in our Search index -- looking at factors like meaning, relevance, quality, usability and context -- to present the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second. And you can learn about how we go about making improvements to Search. (There have been 4,500 such improvements in 2020 alone!) As you’ll read about, we rigorously test these changes with the help of thousands of Search Quality Raters all around the world -- people who are highly trained using our extensive guidelines. These rater guidelines are publicly available, and they describe in great detail how Search works to surface great content.

Cartoon image depicting results testing

We're always testing changes to Search to provide you with the most helpful results.

Watch and learn

You also can watch our How Search Works video series, a set of easy-to-understand explainers about how Search connects you to helpful, relevant information. Here, you’ll find the answers to common questions like how Autocomplete works (no, it’s not mind-reading), how Google keeps you safe on Search, how ads appear in Search and more. 

And if you’re really in the mood to learn all about Search -- and the real people behind the scenes who are working hard to make it better every single day -- you can watch our “home movie,” “Trillions of Questions, No Easy Answers.” Grab your popcorn!

Trending worldwide

It’s also easy for you to get a view into what people are searching for around the world using Google Trends. For more than 15 years, we’ve made this tool publicly accessible for anyone to gain more insight into how people are using Search to find information. Google Trends is the largest publicly available data set, using anonymized search interest across different geographies to highlight trending topics, questions and societal shifts. You can think of it as a window into what the world is searching for on the web.

Transparency for website creators

When it comes to the open web, we also invest heavily in helping site owners, publishers, businesses, creators and others succeed and get discovered on Search. At Google Search Central, creators can get expert advice from experienced webmasters, view over 1000+ educational videos, learn best practices for web development and discover many more tips to maximize their reach on Search. 

Every day, we make changes to make Search work better -- some small, some large. We work hard to give site owners and content producers ample notice and advice about changes where there’s actionable information they can use. While we strive to provide as much information as we can, we also have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our results and keep results as clean as possible from search spam.  That’s why, although we share a lot of information about Search updates, we can’t share every detail. Otherwise, bad actors would have the information they need to evade the protections we’ve put in place against deceptive, low-quality content.

Over the last two decades, Google Search has evolved tremendously, but one thing remains core to how we operate: transparency about our approach and commitment to providing universally accessible information to all. Explore our newly refreshed website to discover more as we continue to evolve.

Source: Search

Learn more – and get more – from Search

When you search for information on Google, you’re probably accustomed to seeing a lot of relevant results in a fraction of a second. But maybe you’ve found yourself wondering how Google connected those results to the words you typed, especially if you didn’t get exactly what you were expecting to find. 

Now, there’s a quick and easy way to see useful context about how Google returned results for your query, and to find helpful tips to get more out of Google Search. Starting today, when you visit an About This Result panel — the three dots next to most results — you’ll get even more information about your results to help you make sense of the information and figure out which result will be most useful.

Screenshot of a Google search bar with the query “how to cook fish in the oven.” Below, a screenshot of an About This Result panel for a result for this query, including information about the source as well as factors (like search terms, language, and location) that connected the result to the search.

Relevant, useful results

With the vast amount of information available on the web, it would be nearly impossible to find what you need without some help sorting through it. Google’s Search systems are designed to do just that: sort through hundreds of billions of webpages to find the most relevant and reliable results, and present them in a helpful way. 

The way Google determines what is relevant and reliable information for a given query is based on a lot of different factors. While it can seem complex, some of these fundamental concepts are actually quite simple, and can be useful for people to understand when they start searching.

Starting today, About This Result will show searchers information about some of these most important factors used by Google Search to connect results to their queries. Because just as these factors help Google decide if a result may be relevant, they may also help people decide what result is useful for them.

Screenshot of a Google search bar with the query “get the shot.” Below, a screenshot of an About This Result panel for a result for this query, including information about the source as well as factors (like search terms, language, and location) that connected the result to the search.

We already give some visual indications of some of these relevance factors on the results page, but we’re now bringing this context to the About This Result panel, so people can easily evaluate whether a result might be the one they’re looking for. Here are some of the factors that you’ll see:

  • Matching keywords: A simple, but important, factor Google uses to determine if information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search. 
  • Related terms: Google also looks for terms that our systems determined are related to the words in your query. If you search “how to cook fish in the oven,” we’ll also look for pages that have related terms like “bake” and “recipe.” 
  • Looking at links: When other pages link to a page using similar words as your query, that page might be relevant to your search. It can also be a helpful indicator of whether online content creators tend to regard the page as useful for that topic.
  • Local relevance: Our systems also look at factors like the language you’re using to search as well as your country and location, to deliver content relevant for your area. For example, if you search "what day is trash pickup?,” it’s helpful to get results that are applicable to your city or state.

Get the most out of your search

Sometimes, the results you see in Search might not be quite what you’re looking for. 

Now, the About This Result panel will also spotlight useful search tips to help Google better understand what you’re trying to find. The panel will show you search techniques or settings you can use to modify your search to get the results you’re after. 

For example, if you usually search in English, but want to find results in a different language, or from a different region, About This Result makes it even easier to adjust your settings. 

You may even want to adjust your search. Imagine you search for “best jogging shoes.” While it’s usually helpful for Google to return results about related concepts, in this case “running shoes,” you’re really after shoes that are optimized for jogging.

A phone screen shows the About This Result panel for the query "Best Jogging Shoes." The image scrolls over the panel, and shows a search tip that pops up suggesting a modification to the search to get different results.

About This Result will show you tips for how you can get to what you really wanted. For example, you can put quotes around a word or phrase to get results that mention those words exactly, or use a minus sign to exclude certain words from your search. 

This new tool is another helpful way to get more context about the results you’re seeing on Search. From being able to quickly check information about a source via About This Result to getting helpful notices if we feel results aren’t particularly relevant or if they’re rapidly changing, this set of features aims to help you find what you’re looking for and also be equipped to better evaluate the information that you find. This expansion of About This Result is rolling out in English in the U.S. to start, and we look forward to bringing this and other related features to more people in the coming months.

Source: Search

Top questions you ask Google about privacy across our products

“Hey Google, I have some questions…” 

Privacy and security is personal. It means different things to different people, but our commitment is the same to everyone who uses our products: we will keep your personal information private, safe, and secure. We think everyone should be in the know about what data is collected, how their information is used, and most importantly, how they control the data they share with us.

Here are some of the top questions that people commonly ask us:

Q. Is Google Assistant recording everything I say?

No, it isn’t.

Google Assistant is designed to wait in standby mode until it is activated, like when you say, "Hey Google" or "Ok Google". In standby mode, it processes short snippets of audio (a few seconds) to detect an activation (such as “Ok Google”). If no activation is detected, then those audio snippets won’t be sent or saved to Google. When an activation is detected, the Assistant comes out of standby mode to fulfill your request. The status indicator on your device lets you know when the Assistant is activated. And when it’s in standby mode, the Assistant won’t send what you are saying to Google or anyone else. To help keep you in control, we're constantly working to make the Assistant better at reducing unintended activations.

To better tailor Google Assistant to your environment, you can now adjust how sensitive your Assistant is to the activation phrase (like 'Hey Google') through the Google Home app for smart speakers and smart displays. We also provide controls to turn off cameras and mics, and when they’re active we’ll provide a clear visual indicator (like flashing dots on top of your device).

Deleting your Google Assistant activity is easy, by simply using your voice. Just say something like, “Hey Google, delete this week’s activity”, or “Hey Google, delete my last conversation”, and Google Assistant will delete your Assistant activity. This will reflect on your My Activity page, and you can also use this page to review and delete activity across the Google products you use. And if you have people coming over, you can also activate a “Guest Mode” on Google Assistant – Just say, “Hey Google, turn on Guest Mode,” and your Google Assistant interactions will not be saved to your account. 

Q. How does Google decide what ads it shows me? How can I control this?

The Ads you see can be based on a number of things, such as your previous searches, the sites you visit, ads clicked, and more.

For example, you may discover that you are seeing a camera ad because you’ve searched for cameras, visited photography websites or clicked on ads for cameras before. The 'Why this ad?' feature helps you understand why you are seeing a given ad. 

Data helps us personalise ads so that they're more useful to you, but we never use the content of your emails or documents, or sensitive information like health, race, religion or sexual orientation, to tailor ads to you.

It is also easy to personalize the kinds of ads that are shown to you, or even disable ads personalization completely. Visit your Ad Settings page.

Q. Are you building a profile of my personal information across your products, for targeting ads?

We do not sell your personal information — not to advertisers, not to anyone. And we don’t use information in apps where you primarily store personal content — such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar and Photos — for advertising purposes.

We use information to improve our products and services for you and for everyone. And we use anonymous, aggregated data to do so.

A small subset of information may be used to serve you relevant ads (for things you may actually want to hear about), but only with your consent. You can always turn these settings off.

It is also important to note that you can use most of Google’s products completely anonymously, without logging in -- you can Search in incognito mode, or clear your search history; you can watch YouTube videos and use Maps. However, when you share your data with us we can create a better experience with our products based on the information shared with us.

Q. Are you reading my emails to sell ads?

We do not scan or read your Gmail messages to show you ads. 

In fact, we have a host of products like Gmail, Drive and Photos that are  designed to store your personal content, and this content is never used to show ads. When you use your personal Google account and open the promotions or social tabs in Gmail, you'll see ads that were selected to be the most useful and relevant for you. The process of selecting and showing personalized ads in Gmail is fully automated. The ads you see in Gmail are based on data associated with your Google Account such as your activity in other Google services such as YouTube or Search, which could affect the types of ads that you see in Gmail. To remember which ads you've dismissed, avoid showing you the same ads, and show you ads you may like better, we save your past ad interactions, like which ads you've clicked or dismissed. Google does not use keywords or messages in your inbox to show you ads – nobody reads your email in order to show you ads.

Also, if you have a work or school account, you will never be shown ads in Gmail.

You can adjust your ad settings anytime. Learn more about Gmail ads.

Q. Why do you need location information on Maps?

If you want to get from A to B, it’s quicker to have your phone tell us where you are, than to have you figure out your address or location. Location information helps in many other ways too, like helping us figure out how busy traffic is. If you choose to enable location sharing, your phone will send anonymous bits of information back to Google. This is combined with anonymous data from people around you to recognise traffic patterns.

This only happens for people who turn location history on. It is off by default. If you turn it on, but then change your mind, you can visit Your Data in Maps -- a single place for people to manage Google account location settings.

Q. What information does Google know about me? How do I control it?

You can see a summary of what Google services you use and the data saved in your account from your Google Dashboard. There are also powerful privacy controls like Activity Controls and Ad Settings, which allow you to switch the collection and use of data on or off to decide how all of Google can work better for you.

We’ve made it easier for you to make decisions about your data directly within the Google services you use every day. For example, without ever leaving Search, you can review and delete your recent search activity, get quick access to relevant privacy controls from your Google Account, and learn more about how Search works with your data. You can quickly access these controls in Search, Maps, and the Assistant.

Privacy features and controls have always been built into our services, and we’re continuously working to make it even easier to control and manage your privacy and security. But we know that the web is a constantly evolving space, where new threats and bad actors will unfortunately emerge. There will always be more work to be done, and safeguarding people who use our products and services every day will remain our focus. 

For more on how we keep you and your information private, safe and secure visit the Google Safety Center.

Posted by the Google India Team

Improving Search to better protect people from harassment

Over the past two decades of building Google Search, we’ve continued to improve and refine our ability to provide the highest quality results for the billions of queries we see every day. Our core principles guide every improvement, as we constantly update Search to work better for you. One area we’d like to shed more light on is how we balance maximizing access to information with the responsibility to protect people from online harassment.

We design our ranking systems to surface high quality results for as many queries as possible, but some types of queries are more susceptible to bad actors and require specialized solutions. One such example is websites that employ exploitative removals practices. These are sites that require payment to remove content, and since 2018 we’ve had a policy that enables people to request removal of pages with information about them from our results. 

Beyond removing these pages from appearing in Google Search, we also used these removals as a demotion signal in Search, so that sites that have these exploitative practices rank lower in results. This solution leads the industry, and is effective in helping people who are victims of harassment from these sites. 

However, we found that there are some extraordinary cases of repeated harassment. The New York Times highlighted one such case, and shed light on some limitations of our approach.

To help people who are dealing with extraordinary cases of repeated harassment, we’re implementing an improvement to our approach to further protect known victims. Now, once someone has requested a removal from one site with predatory practices, we will automatically apply ranking protections to help prevent content from other similar low quality sites appearing in search results for people’s names. We’re also looking to expand these protections further, as part of our ongoing work in this space.

This change was inspired by a similar approach we’ve taken with victims of non-consensual explicit content, commonly known as revenge porn. While no solution is perfect, our evaluations show that these changes meaningfully improve the quality of our results.

Over the years of building Search, our approach has remained consistent: We take examples of queries where we’re not doing the best job in providing high quality results, and look for ways to make improvements to our algorithms. In this way, we don’t “fix” individual queries, since they’re often a symptom of a class of problems that affect many different queries. Our ability to address issues continues to lead the industry, and we’ve deployed advanced technology, tools and quality signals over the last two decades, making Search work better every day.

Search is never a solved problem, and there are always new challenges we face as the web and the world change. We’re committed to listening to feedback and looking for ways to improve the quality of our results.

Source: Search

Catch all the big plays with sports web stories

Aren’t able to catch the game and watch your favorite team live? We've all been there before. But now, when you come to Google looking for the latest updates on your favorite team or game scores from around the league, with Google Web Stories you can also instantly catch up on the big moments and in-game action you might have missed. And with the start of UEFA EURO 2020 just around the corner, football fans in countries across Europe, Africa and Asia can also get in on the action — just search for your team or the name of the tournament. 

Web Stories is an online tappable storybook curated with videos, GIFs and images, bringing you real-time, in-game sports highlights easily accessible from Google Search. Through collaborations with sports leagues and broadcasters from around the world, you can quickly catch up on what you have missed, or re-watch key plays in just a few taps.  You can already find these Web Stories for some of the world’s most popular sports leagues including baseball, basketball, cricket, golf, hockey and now football. With the addition of more leagues and broadcasters in the coming months, soon you’ll have access to even more great sports content.

Screen recording of someone viewing an MLB Web Story through Search

Major League Baseball was one of the earliest adopters of Web Stories, launching in time for the 2019 Postseason and expanding ever since. This season, MLB Game Stories are available globally for every game, in both English and Spanish. Fans in different countries can now catch up on baseball highlights from their devices within one to two minutes of the play happening on the field. The end result: fans are connected to the information they’re looking for through unparalleled access to real-time content and our partners expand their reach -- talk about a home run! 

Screenshot of a MLB Web Story in Spanish

MLB Web Stories are available in Spanish too!

We are excited to be rolling this feature across select countries for UEFA EURO 2020 and can't wait to continue to expand. So whether you want to see every game-defining play that led to your team’s win, or begrudgingly try to understand how your team could have possibly lost to their biggest rivals, Web Stories can connect you to all the action on Search.

Source: Search

New tools to support vaccine access and distribution

While over half of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, vaccine uptake is slowing across the country. Research shows a variety of factors are preventing people from getting vaccinated — from physical access issues, like transportation challenges and not being able to take time off work, to concerns about safety and side effects. 

To help public health officials and researchers in the U.S. reach people facing these challenges, we’re introducing new tools to better understand the vaccination needs of a community. This builds on our work of providing data, insights and tools to public health, epidemiologists, researchers and policymakers since the early days of the pandemic. 

Equitable access to vaccinations 

For some people getting vaccinated is as simple as walking a few blocks to their local pharmacy. For others, it may be much more difficult and involve a long drive or navigating public transit. If public health officials, researchers and healthcare providers can identify areas where vaccination sites are inaccessible or hard to reach, they may be able to implement measures like pop-up vaccine sites or transportation support like ride vouchers.  

Our COVID-19 Vaccination Access Dataset, which is available to the public today, calculates travel time to vaccination sites to identify areas where it may be difficult to reach a site whether someone is walking, driving or taking public transportation. We prepared this dataset using Google Maps Platform Directions API, the same API that powers navigation in Google Maps. This dataset does not contain any user data.

This dataset will help power a new Vaccine Equity Plannerdashboard from Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and  Boston Children’s Hospital, the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. . This dashboard integrates our dataset with data from other organizations, such as the CDC’s social vulnerability index, to identify “vaccine deserts,” or areas where people have little or no convenient access to a vaccine site, to inform interventions such as pop-up clinics or new sites. 

Vaccine Equity Planner dashboard for New York and Mississippi

Vaccine Equity Planner dashboard for New York and Mississippi.   

Understanding vaccine information needs 

Public health organizations have been the go-to sources for authoritative information throughout the pandemic, and have provided educational campaigns about the safety, efficacy and availability of vaccines. We’ve heard from public health organizations and researchers that they want access to localized and timely data about what information their communities are seeking so they can tailor their communication to people not yet vaccinated. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll introduce a COVID-19 Vaccination Search Insights tool to help public health officials and researchers explore vaccine-related concerns and the information needs of local communities. The tool will show trends representing the relative search interests across three search categories: all vaccine information, intent to get vaccinated (such as eligibility, availability and sites), and safety and side effects. Insights will be provided at the county and zip code level and updated weekly.  

The trends are based on aggregate and anonymized Google Search data so that no user information is included. The process to anonymize the COVID-19 Vaccination Search Insights is powered by differential privacy, a technique that adds noise to the data to provide privacy guarantees while preserving the overall quality of the data. The data can be compared across different regions and over time, without sharing the absolute number of queries in any given area. 

Both tools will initially be available in English and for the U.S. As we get more feedback from public health organizations, researchers, and the community at large, we’ll evaluate expanding these tools internationally.

With these insights, we hope that public health organizations and healthcare providers can more easily and effectively reach their communities. Google will continue to do its part by providing timely and accurate vaccine information and appointment availability to people in Search and supporting organizations focused on vaccine equity. 

Source: Search

How we update Search to improve your results

Our computers, smartphones and apps are regularly updated to help make them better. The same thing happens with Google Search. In fact, Google Search is updated thousands of times a year to improve the experience and the quality of results. Here’s more on how that process works.

Why updates are important

Google Search receives billions of queries every day from countries around the world in 150 languages. Our automated systems identify the most relevant and reliable information from hundreds of billions of pages in our index to help people find what they’re looking for. Delivering great results at this type of scale and complexity requires many different systems, and we’re always looking for ways to improve these systems so we can display the most useful results possible.

Thanks to ongoing improvements, our evaluation processes show we’ve decreased the number of irrelevant results appearing on a search results page by over 40% over the past five years. Google sends billions of visits to websites each day, and by providing highly relevant results, we've been able to continue growing the traffic we send to sites every year since our founding.

We also send visitors to a wide range of sites — more than 100 million every day — so we’re helping sites from across the web and around the world get discovered. As new sites emerge and the web changes, continued updates are key to ensuring we’re supporting a wide range of publishers, creators and businesses, while providing searchers with the best information available.

How updates make Search better

Here are a few examples of what these updates look like:

Last month we launched an improvement we made to help people find better product reviews through Search. We have an automated system that tries to determine if a review  seems to go beyond just sharing basic information about a product and instead demonstrates in-depth research or expertise. This helps people find high quality information from the content producers who are making it.

Another example is an update we made several years ago that tries to determine if content is mobile-friendly. In situations where there are many possible matches with relatively equal relevancy, giving a preference to those that render better on mobile devices is more useful for users searching on those devices.

In any given week, we might implement dozens of updates that are meant to improve Search in incremental ways. These are improvements that have been fully tested and evaluated through our rating process. People using Search generally don’t notice these updates, but Google gets a little better with each one. Collectively, they add up to help Search continue providing great results.

Because there are so many incremental updates, it’s not useful for us to share details about all of them. However, we try to do so when we feel there is actionable information that site owners, content producers or others might consider applying, as was the case with both of the updates mentioned above.

Core updates involve broad improvements to Search

Periodically, we make more substantial improvements to our overall ranking processes. We refer to these as core updates, and they can produce some noticeable changes — though typically these are more often noticed by people actively running websites or performing search engine optimization (SEO) than ordinary users.

This is why we give notice when these kinds of updates are coming. We want site owners to understand these changes aren't because of something they've done but rather because of how our systems have been improved to better assess content overall and better address user expectations. We also want to remind them that nothing in a core update (or any update) is specific to a particular site, but is rather about improving Search overall. As we’ve said previously in our guidance about this:

There's nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update. They haven't violated our webmaster guidelines nor been subjected to manual or algorithmic action, as can happen to pages that do violate those guidelines. In fact, there's nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.

One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine that in 2015 you made a list of the top 100 movies. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It's going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before.

The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren't bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them.

Core updates are designed to increase the overall relevancy of our search results. In terms of traffic we send, it’s largely a net exchange. Some content might do less well, but other content gains. In the long term, improving our systems in this way is how we’ve continued to improve Search and send more traffic to sites across the web every year.

How we help businesses and creators with guidance and tools 

While there’s nothing specific sites need to implement for core updates, we provide guidance and actionable advice that may help them be successful with Search overall. Following this guidance isn't a guarantee a site will rank well for every query it wants to. That’s not something Google or any other search engine could guarantee.

Any particular query can have thousands of pages or other content that's all relevant in some way. It’s impossible to show all this content at the top of our results. And that wouldn’t be useful for searchers, who come to Search precisely because they expect us to show the most helpful information first.

By following our core update guidance, businesses, site owners and content creators can help us better understand when they really have the most relevant and useful content to display. We also recommend sites follow our quality guidelines, implement our optimization tips and make use of the free Search Console tool that anyone can use.

These kinds of updates, along with the tools and advice we offer, are how we make sure we keep connecting searchers to content creators, businesses and others who have the helpful information they’re looking for.

Source: Search

Google I/O 2021: Being helpful in moments that matter


It’s great to be back hosting our I/O Developers Conference this year. Pulling up to our Mountain View campus this morning, I felt a sense of normalcy for the first time in a long while. Of course, it’s not the same without our developer community here in person. COVID-19 has deeply affected our entire global community over the past year and continues to take a toll. Places such as Brazil, and my home country of India, are now going through their most difficult moments of the pandemic yet. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by COVID and we are all hoping for better days ahead.

The last year has put a lot into perspective. At Google, it’s also given renewed purpose to our mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. We continue to approach that mission with a singular goal: building a more helpful Google, for everyone. That means being helpful to people in the moments that matter and giving everyone the tools to increase their knowledge, success, health, and happiness. 

Helping in moments that matter

Sometimes it’s about helping in big moments, like keeping 150 million students and educators learning virtually over the last year with Google Classroom. Other times it’s about helping in little moments that add up to big changes for everyone. For example, we’re introducing safer routing in Maps. This AI-powered capability in Maps can identify road, weather, and traffic conditions where you are likely to brake suddenly; our aim is to reduce up to 100 million events like this every year. 

Reimagining the future of work

One of the biggest ways we can help is by reimagining the future of work. Over the last year, we’ve seen work transform in unprecedented ways, as offices and coworkers have been replaced by kitchen countertops and pets. Many companies, including ours, will continue to offer flexibility even when it’s safe to be in the same office again. Collaboration tools have never been more critical, and today we announced a new smart canvas experience in Google Workspace that enables even richer collaboration. 

Smart Canvas integration with Google Meet

Responsible next-generation AI

We’ve made remarkable advances over the past 22 years, thanks to our progress in some of the most challenging areas of AI, including translation, images and voice. These advances have powered improvements across Google products, making it possible to talk to someone in another language using Assistant’s interpreter mode, view cherished memories on Photos, or use Google Lens to solve a tricky math problem. 

We’ve also used AI to improve the core Search experience for billions of people by taking a huge leap forward in a computer’s ability to process natural language. Yet, there are still moments when computers just don’t understand us. That’s because language is endlessly complex: We use it to tell stories, crack jokes, and share ideas — weaving in concepts we’ve learned over the course of our lives. The richness and flexibility of language make it one of humanity’s greatest tools and one of computer science’s greatest challenges. 

Today I am excited to share our latest research in natural language understanding: LaMDA. LaMDA is a language model for dialogue applications. It’s open domain, which means it is designed to converse on any topic. For example, LaMDA understands quite a bit about the planet Pluto. So if a student wanted to discover more about space, they could ask about Pluto and the model would give sensible responses, making learning even more fun and engaging. If that student then wanted to switch over to a different topic — say, how to make a good paper airplane — LaMDA could continue the conversation without any retraining.

This is one of the ways we believe LaMDA can make information and computing radically more accessible and easier to use (and you can learn more about that here). 

We have been researching and developing language models for many years. We’re focused on ensuring LaMDA meets our incredibly high standards on fairness, accuracy, safety, and privacy, and that it is developed consistently with our AI Principles. And we look forward to incorporating conversation features into products like Google Assistant, Search, and Workspace, as well as exploring how to give capabilities to developers and enterprise customers.

LaMDA is a huge step forward in natural conversation, but it’s still only trained on text. When people communicate with each other they do it across images, text, audio, and video. So we need to build multimodal models (MUM) to allow people to naturally ask questions across different types of information. With MUM you could one day plan a road trip by asking Google to “find a route with beautiful mountain views.” This is one example of how we’re making progress towards more natural and intuitive ways of interacting with Search.

Pushing the frontier of computing

Translation, image recognition, and voice recognition laid the foundation for complex models like LaMDA and multimodal models. Our compute infrastructure is how we drive and sustain these advances, and TPUs, our custom-built machine learning processes, are a big part of that. Today we announced our next generation of TPUs: the TPU v4. These are powered by the v4 chip, which is more than twice as fast as the previous generation. One pod can deliver more than one exaflop, equivalent to the computing power of 10 million laptops combined. This is the fastest system we’ve ever deployed, and a historic milestone for us. Previously to get to an exaflop, you needed to build a custom supercomputer. And we'll soon have dozens of TPUv4 pods in our data centers, many of which will be operating at or near 90% carbon-free energy. They’ll be available to our Cloud customers later this year.

(Left) TPU v4 chip tray; (Right) TPU v4 pods at our Oklahoma data center 

It’s tremendously exciting to see this pace of innovation. As we look further into the future, there are types of problems that classical computing will not be able to solve in reasonable time. Quantum computing can help. Achieving our quantum milestone was a tremendous accomplishment, but we’re still at the beginning of a multiyear journey. We continue to work to get to our next big milestone in quantum computing: building an error-corrected quantum computer, which could help us increase battery efficiency, create more sustainable energy, and improve drug discovery. To help us get there, we’ve opened a new state of the art Quantum AI campus with our first quantum data center and quantum processor chip fabrication facilities.

Inside our new Quantum AI campus.

Safer with Google

At Google we know that our products can only be as helpful as they are safe. And advances in computer science and AI are how we continue to make them better. We keep more users safe by blocking malware, phishing attempts, spam messages, and potential cyber attacks than anyone else in the world.

Our focus on data minimization pushes us to do more, with less data. Two years ago at I/O, I announced Auto-Delete, which encourages users to have their activity data automatically and continuously deleted. We’ve since made Auto-Delete the default for all new Google Accounts. Now, after 18 months we automatically delete your activity data, unless you tell us to do it sooner. It’s now active for over 2 billion accounts.

All of our products are guided by three important principles: With one of the world’s most advanced security infrastructures, our products are secure by default. We strictly uphold responsible data practices so every product we build is private by design. And we create easy to use privacy and security settings so you’re in control.

Long term research: Project Starline

We were all grateful to have video conferencing over the last year to stay in touch with family and friends, and keep schools and businesses going. But there is no substitute for being together in the room with someone. 

Several years ago we kicked off a project called Project Starline to use technology to explore what’s possible. Using high-resolution cameras and custom-built depth sensors, it captures your shape and appearance from multiple perspectives, and then fuses them together to create an extremely detailed, real-time 3D model. The resulting data is many gigabits per second, so to send an image this size over existing networks, we developed novel compression and streaming algorithms that reduce the data by a factor of more than 100. We also developed a breakthrough light-field display that shows you the realistic representation of someone sitting in front of you. As sophisticated as the technology is, it vanishes, so you can focus on what’s most important. 

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing it at our own offices, and the results are promising. There’s also excitement from our lead enterprise partners, and we’re working with partners in health care and media to get early feedback. In pushing the boundaries of remote collaboration, we've made technical advances that will improve our entire suite of communications products. We look forward to sharing more in the months ahead.

A person having a conversation with someone over Project Starline.

Solving complex sustainability challenges

Another area of research is our work to drive forward sustainability. Sustainability has been a core value for us for more than 20 years. We were the first major company to become carbon neutral in 2007. We were the first to match our operations with 100% renewable energy in 2017, and we’ve been doing it ever since. Last year we eliminated our entire carbon legacy. 

Our next ambition is our biggest yet: operating on carbon free energy by the year 2030. This represents a significant step change from current approaches and is a moonshot on the same scale as quantum computing. It presents equally hard problems to solve, from sourcing carbon-free energy in every place we operate to ensuring it can run every hour of every day. 

Building on the first carbon-intelligent computing platform that we rolled out last year, we’ll soon be the first company to implement carbon-intelligent load shifting across both time and place within our data center network. By this time next year we’ll be shifting more than a third of non-production compute to times and places with greater availability of carbon-free energy. And we are working to apply our Cloud AI with novel drilling techniques and fiber optic sensing to deliver geothermal power in more places, starting in our Nevada data centers next year.

Investments like these are needed to get to 24/7 carbon-free energy, and it’s happening in Mountain View, California, too. We’re building our new campus to the highest sustainability standards. When completed, these buildings will feature a first- of- its- kind, dragonscale solar skin, equipped with 90,000 silver solar panels and the capacity to generate nearly 7 megawatts. They will house the largest geothermal pile system in North America to help heat buildings in the winter and cool them in the summer. It’s been amazing to see it come to life.

(Left) Rendering of the new Charleston East campus in Mountain View, California; (Right) Model view with dragon scale solar skin.

A celebration of technology

I/O isn’t just a celebration of technology but of the people who use it, and build it — including the millions of developers around the world who joined us virtually today. Over the past year we’ve seen people use technology in profound ways: to keep themselves healthy and safe, to learn and grow, to connect, and to help one another through really difficult times. It’s been inspiring to see and has made us more committed than ever to being helpful in the moments that matter. 

I look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s I/O — in person, I hope. Until then, be safe and well.

Posted by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet