Tag Archives: Search

Find food and give back with Google

In Google’s early days, around this time every year, a group of us would run to Costco and buy supplies to take to Bay Area food banks and pantries. It was a grassroots effort that was scrappy and meaningful — and it introduced a lot of Googlers to how rewarding giving back can be. It made me want to learn what more we could do to have an even bigger impact.

Inspired by our small and mighty food donation operation, I became a passionate supporter of Second Harvest Food Bank in Silicon Valley. And with guidance from food assistance experts, we established a dedicated team at Google in 2020 to work on tackling issues of food waste and food insecurity. Too many families are having to make difficult decisions no one should be forced to make: paying rent, bills, healthcare costs — or keeping food on their table. These challenges have only been compounded by the COVID-19 crisis, which has left more than 54 million working Americans struggling to find a meal. That’s nearly 16% of the country.

Google co-founder Larry Page once said "people are starving in the world not because we don't have enough food. It's because we're not yet organized to solve that problem." The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) reports that the world produces more than we need to feed every person on this planet. This isn’t a problem of supply, it’s a problem of distribution. And while solving this issue will require work from government, businesses, nonprofits and individuals working together, one way Google can help is to give people easy access to the information they need, when they need it.

Helping people find food pantries

When you look at Google Search trends, you can see that searches for "food bank" and “food pantry” spike during the month of November.

Food banks have always been critical to making sure people have regular access to nutritious food, but the ongoing pandemic has drastically increased their role as a crucial lifeline in so many communities. With the need for their services doubling or even tripling in some areas, we want to make sure that the people who need them most can find them.

That’s why we’ve launched a new initiative to expand the information about food banks and pantries in Google Search and Maps. We’ve augmented existing coverage with data from two initial nonprofit partners: WhyHunger and Hunger Free America, and we’ve added information to make sure people searching for food support can find what they need. These changes are being made directly in Google Maps so food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens can focus on what matters most — getting people food.

Still, some of these locations don’t yet have websites or phone numbers available on Google. So over the last two months, we've worked to update this information in Search and Maps, making 85,000 plus calls to verify local food banks and pantries. These efforts will continue through the holidays.

Mobile image showing Google Search results for the query “food pantry near me.”

We’ve also developed new Google Business Profile features specifically for food banks, pantries and soup kitchens. They can now provide details on their profile, like whether an appointment is needed, if there are eligibility requirements to receive food and what languages are spoken. They can also add information about their services, like whether prepared meals are available or if grocery delivery is an option. Additionally, pantries can specify whether they’re accepting new volunteers or soliciting food or monetary donations.

Helping people access benefits

Beyond working with food pantries, we’re also helping people use Search to find out how to get and use food assistance benefits.

Federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) feed more than 40 million Americans each year. We heard from users that information about these programs is often hard to find, especially for people who are using them for the first time. Today, if you search on Google for “SNAP benefits,” or the name of your local SNAP program, you’ll find direct links to each state’s eligibility guidelines and application process, including contact information for local food assistance agencies.

Mobile image showing Google Search results for the query “SNAP benefits,” with details about program eligibility and links to apply for local programs.

Once approved, many people use Electronic Benefits Transfer cards (also known as EBT) to pay for their groceries. Now, if you search for “grocery stores that accept EBT” you can easily find USDA-approved stores that accept this form of payment — saving time and potential confusion.

Supporting hunger relief organizations – and the communities they serve

I’m also proud to announce that we’re contributing financial support as well. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Googlers have stepped up – giving more than $22 million in personal donations and company-match to hunger relief organizations in the U.S. Today, Google is contributing an additional $2 million in support ($1 million in cash funding and $1 million in donated ads from Google.org) to 20 food banks, pantries and innovative hunger relief organizations across the country.

There is no easy solution to these large-scale challenges that face our communities, but I’m hopeful that increasing access to information about local food support programs and services can help. Our teams are hard at work and committed to building new tools and features that support economic recovery in the U.S. – and around the world – as we weather the COVID-19 crisis. And I personally am really looking forward to getting back to sorting and distributing food with my family at our local food bank.

You can make an impact by volunteering your time, making a donation, using your voice, or a combination of each — there are a number of ways we can all give back. If you need a place to start, you can donate to the largest national network of food banks, Feeding America. Or you can get involved locally: just search for your nearest food pantry on Google and contact them to see what they need. And if you know someone who might need food assistance, you can simply help by sharing resources. Spreading the word not only about what you’re doing to help, but why can make a huge difference.

Foster meaningful conversations with customers on Google

Whether it’s searching for the perfect gift or looking for a contractor to remodel that bathtub, consumers are increasingly turning to calls and chat to interact with merchants. People want to communicate with businesses to help them make more informed decisions, and this trend is continuously accelerating. That’s why we’re introducing new features that’ll help business owners make the most of their interactions with customers on Google Search and Maps.

Learn more about the calls you receive from Google

People often value the immediacy and personal connection of a phone call, and we know this directly impacts merchants’ businesses. For example, Nedra Flansberg, the owner of Posh Brides and Grooms based in Carlsbad CA, told us that 50% of her customers come from Google. To help build connections between customers and millions of merchants like Nedra, we’re launching call history for all U.S. and Canadian merchants with verified Business Profiles. With call history, you can easily see which inbound customer calls came from your Business Profile and review helpful analytics on inbound call performance.

A cell phone showing a merchant’s call history

Quickly respond to customers on your Business Profile

Another valuable way consumers engage with merchants is by chatting with them. More and more people are turning to chat conversations with merchants of all sizes, ranging from small businesses to global merchants like Levi’s. With business messaging, Levi’s was able to resolve 30x more store related questions and saw a 31% increase in product related conversations. Merchants tell us they want to improve their interactions with customers, so we’re announcing a few new features to help them do just that.

Last year, we added functionality so you can chat with customers directly on Google Maps. Now, you can also see and respond to messages right from your Business Profile on Google Search.

A laptop showing messaging directly from Google Search

It's also helpful to know the recipient got your message on chat. With read receipts, both parties know whether their messages were seen. This feature is launching for all Business Profile merchants this month, further enriching the chat experience for customers and businesses.

A cell phone showing that a merchant’s sent message was read by the customer

As businesses prepare for another busy holiday season, and customers increasingly turn to calls and chat to interact with businesses, we look forward to helping foster even more meaningful interactions and giving merchants more tools to succeed.

Learn more about calls and chat on your Business Profile.

Giving kids and teens more control over their images in Search

In this post, we'll walk you through how kids, teens and families can make use of a new tool that gives minors more control over their images in Google Search. Because while we already provide a range of options for people seeking to remove content from Search, we know that kids and teens have to navigate some unique challenges online, especially when a picture of them is unexpectedly available on the internet.

With a newly implemented policy, anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, can now request the removal of their images from Search results, following a few simple steps. This means these images won’t appear in the Images tab or as thumbnails in any feature in Google Search.

How to request the removal of images of minors from Google search results

If you’re under 18 and there’s an image of yourself that you want removed from Google results, you – or your parent, guardian or authorized representative – can follow these steps to request that it be removed:


  • Visit the help page for this new policy to understand the information you’ll need to provide when using the request form.
  • Start your removal request using the form at this support link.
  • Fill out the form to report the imagery that is appearing in results. In the form, include information like:
  • After you submit the request, our teams will review it and reach out for any additional information we might need to verify it meets the requirements for removal. And we’ll notify you once we’ve taken down the image, if it meets the requirements.


It’s important to note that removing an image from Google results doesn’t remove it from the internet. That’s why you might want to contact a site’s webmaster to ask that they remove the content, too. You can learn more about how to do that on our support page.

We believe this change will help give young people more control over their digital footprint and where their images can be found on Search. Learn more about other ways we work to help kids and families stay safe while exploring information online.

Learn a new word every day

People come to Search every day to look up the definition of words – whether they want to know how the dictionary defines “love” as they write their wedding vows, or they simply came across an unfamiliar word in a newspaper article. Understanding the meaning of new words helps unlock information for people as they go about their daily lives, and worldwide in September, according to Google Trends the top-searched English definitions were “introvert” followed by “integrity.” With this in mind, we’ve created an easy-to-use feature that not only helps you learn about different words, but also sparks your curiosity.

Now, through the Google app on your phone, you can sign up to receive daily notifications that help you learn new words and some of the interesting facts behind them. For example, did you know the word “benefactor” comes from the Latin saying “bene facere,” which means “do good?”

To sign up, look up the definition of any English word – let’s say defineserendipity, for example – then just click on the bell icon in the top right corner.

Three screenshots of a phone showing how to sign-up for this feature as well as what the notification looks like once the user has signed up.

While this feature is currently only available in English, there are words tailored to both English learners and fluent speakers alike, and soon you will be able to choose different difficulty levels. So you can expand your vocabulary, develop your language proficiency, or just show off to your friends that you learned an interesting word or fun fact.

How user research helped create unemployment assistance tools

In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the United States were losing their jobs or experiencing job insecurity. Over the course of the year, one in four people in the U.S. would apply for unemployment. People were looking for information on government assistance — in fact, searches for “unemployment benefits” increased by more than 5,000% in 2020.

While the pandemic caused a spike, people have long been searching for this kind of information. Back in 2019, a team at Google wanted to look into helping people navigate government services online. The team, led by User Experience Research (UXR) Manager John Webb, started looking into how Google could help. Initially, John explains, the team was seeking users’ input to build a Search feature that would explain civic services and government quickly and easily. “Obviously, things became more complex — and urgent — very quickly,” he says.

Sydney Hessel is also one of the leads on the project. She’s been a UX researcher for more than five years. As a result of COVID-19, she saw close friends lose their jobs suddenly. She knew how important this research could be. “We approached our work with empathy,” she says, “so we could deeply understand people’s experiences and how we could support them in the products we design.” The Google Experience Research Program recently relaunched its site, so more people can sign up to participate in future research like this to inform all kinds of products.

Being proactive and doing interviews in person before COVID became more serious is what allowed us to jump into building the product so quickly. It helped us create a more empathetic tool. John Webb
Google UXR Manager

As 2019 became 2020, the User Research team began recruiting study participants from a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and industries who’d been laid off, furloughed or had their shifts cut during COVID’s early days. Then, they used Google Meet for in-depth, one-on-one interviews. “We asked about their job situation, what they saw as their next steps to make ends meet and how Search could be designed to better support them,” Sydney says. Everyone from product managers to engineers joined the sessions.

“Our team also conducted both in-person and remote studies with more than 100 people,” John says. “Before COVID-19, we had teams in many different places, working to understand what people in these places needed.” On-the-ground research was cut short and interviewing moved to Google Meet, which John says went pretty smoothly. Being able to continue interviews via video calls was essential, and meant that people could offer insight about employment conditions as they developed. Plus, the early, in-person research had its benefits, too. “Being proactive and doing interviews in person before COVID became more serious is what allowed us to jump into building the product so quickly,” John explains. “It helped us create a more empathetic tool — we were more aware of cultural nuances, and how people in different countries with different government benefits would need different kinds of help.”

Information about unemployment benefits eligibility and other government services can be hard to understand, making it difficult to navigate the process and make informed decisions. “We actually found that a lot of the people we talked to didn’t even know there were benefits they qualified for,” John says. So UXR took what they learned back to product teams at Google — which soon led to the launch of new, dedicated information panels in Search for Unemployment and other benefits. These information panels include robust local information about eligibility, as well as direct links and information about how to apply in each state.

An image of a mobile phone showing unemployment benefit information

Sydney says seeing the team’s research inform the design of the product — and such an important one — was incredibly encouraging. “It was a really moving and motivating experience for the whole team,” she says. “These interviews fired us up to build quickly and intentionally for the many people facing economic hardship during this time.”

We encourage everyone to help shape the future of Google and our products. Sign up to lend your insights to the Google Research team.

An overview of our rater guidelines for Search

At Google, we like to say that Search is not a solved problem: We’re constantly making improvements (more than 4,800 last year alone). These changes can be big launches or small tune-ups, but they’re all designed to make Search work better for you, and to make sure you can find relevant, high quality information when you need it.

One of the key ways we determine if an improvement to Search works well is through the help of search quality raters. This group of more than 10,000 people all over the world work from a common set of search quality rater guidelines used to evaluate the quality of search results — which are publicly available. Today, we wanted to give you an idea of how these guidelines work, and how — just like Search itself — they improve over time.

What are the search quality rater guidelines?

The quality rater guidelines are more than 170 pages long, but if we have to boil it down to one phrase, we’d say they help make sure Search is returning relevant results from the most reliable sources available.

Information quality is at the heart of Search, and our systems fundamentally work to surface high-quality information. The rater guidelines help raters determine if a planned improvement is meeting that goal by providing a clear, uniform definition that all raters use to assess the results they see.

More specifically, high-quality information is content which demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness on a topic, or E-A-T for short. For example, a health site with content from doctors and produced by a medical institution would have a high level of what many would consider to be expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The rater guidelines also define low-quality content on the web, such as content that spreads hate or seeks to deceive users.

Who uses the guidelines?

As we noted, the changes we make to Search are rigorously tested and evaluated by real people. Our search quality raters provide us with insights and evaluate pages against our guidelines to help make sure our systems — and proposed improvements — are working as intended.

What that looks like in practice is often a “side-by-side” test where a rater will look at two sets of Search results, one from the current version of Google and the other from an improvement we’re testing. Raters will review the pages in each set of results, and evaluate if the pages are a helpful match for the query based on our rater guidelines.

The ratings they provide don’t directly impact how a page or site appears in Search. Instead, they help us measure how well our systems are working to deliver great content.

How often are the rater guidelines updated?

Just like we make improvements to Search, we update the rater quality guidelines from time to time to make sure they’re working as intended.

Some changes are meant to tackle issues we’ve identified in Search, and may include expanded sections and new examples to help guide raters. For example, in 2017, we updated our guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality web pages that included misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes or other content.

Sometimes, we identify concepts that are especially challenging for raters. We then make changes to the guidelines to improve ratings. In 2020, for instance, we provided new guidance on how to tell if a result from a dictionary or encyclopedia would be useful for a certain query.

Other changes focus on things like refreshing the language for clarity and updating organization. That’s what made up most of our October 2021 update, which included clarifications of what constitutes lowest quality content, and refreshed and modernized guidance on researching the reputation of websites.

We rigorously review, test and evaluate all changes to ensure they’re helpful and having the intended effect. And we have a publicly available log at the end of our guidelines describing in detail any changes we make. Ultimately, these updates are designed to make Search work better for you.

Continuous scrolling comes to Search on mobile

At Google, we’re always exploring new ways to help people find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Earlier this year, we launched a redesign of the Search results page on mobile for a more modern experience that’s easier to scan and navigate. Today, we’re making browsing search results more seamless and intuitive with the introduction of continuous scrolling on mobile devices. Now, when you reach the bottom of a search results page on your phone, the next set of results will automatically load with relevant information.

While you can often find what you're looking for in the first few results, sometimes you want to keep looking. In fact, most people who want additional information tend to browse up to four pages of search results. With this update, people can now seamlessly do this, browsing through many different results, before needing to click the “See more” button.

For example, for broader, more open-ended questions like “What can I do with pumpkins?” you may want to consider more results and inspiration before deciding how to move forward. Scrolling through a wider range of results may show you tons of options you hadn’t considered, like no-carve pumpkin decor ideas for Halloween, pumpkin seed recipes that make your pumpkin worth carving and more ideas for how to make the most out of your gourd.

So for everyone with a little extra curiosity, this new Search experience is starting to gradually roll out today for most English searches on mobile in the U.S.

Continuous scrolling comes to Search on mobile

At Google, we’re always exploring new ways to help people find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Earlier this year, we launched a redesign of the Search results page on mobile for a more modern experience that’s easier to scan and navigate. Today, we’re making browsing search results more seamless and intuitive with the introduction of continuous scrolling on mobile devices. Now, when you reach the bottom of a search results page on your phone, the next set of results will automatically load with relevant information.

While you can often find what you're looking for in the first few results, sometimes you want to keep looking. In fact, most people who want additional information tend to browse up to four pages of search results. With this update, people can now seamlessly do this, browsing through many different results, before needing to click the “See more” button.

For example, for broader, more open-ended questions like “What can I do with pumpkins?” you may want to consider more results and inspiration before deciding how to move forward. Scrolling through a wider range of results may show you tons of options you hadn’t considered, like no-carve pumpkin decor ideas for Halloween, pumpkin seed recipes that make your pumpkin worth carving and more ideas for how to make the most out of your gourd.

So for everyone with a little extra curiosity, this new Search experience is starting to gradually roll out today for most English searches on mobile in the U.S.

Bringing new life to Swedish endangered animals using AR

According to the UN, more plants and animals are threatened with extinction now than in any other period of human history — approximately 1 million species globally. The accelerating pace of extinction is an urgent matter, and at this week’s UN biodiversity conference representatives from countries all over the world are coming together virtually to set out a plan for how to combat the challenge of better protecting our endangered ecological ecosystem.

Sweden, which is home to much of the iconic wildlife in the northern hemisphere — from moose and bears to reindeer and wolverines— currently has 2,249 threatened species, according to the IUCN Red List. Each of these animals plays a vital role in the ecosystem we are all a part of, yet according to a recent study by Kantar Sifo, 30% of Swedes don’t believe or know if there are animals currently at risk of becoming extinct in Sweden.

Meet five endangered species in 3D

Today, in collaboration with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, and in an effort to raise awareness of endangered animals, we are bringing five new Swedish endangered species to Search in augmented reality. Now, by simply searching for the lynx, arctic fox, white-backed woodpecker, harbour porpoise or moss carder bee in the Google App and tapping “View in 3D”, people from all over the world will be able to meet the animals up close in a life-size scale with movement and sound.

An image of augmented reality animals: a porpoise, a woodpecker, a lynx, an arctic fox and a flower with a bee

Experts from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation have selected these specific animals for their varying types of reasons for endangerment in the country and relevance to certain types of habitats, based on the IUCN’s Red List. The white-backed woodpecker and the harbour porpoise (in the Baltic sea) are “critically” endangered, with only a few individuals left of each species. The arctic fox has an “endangered” threat status due to its decreasing population, and the lynx and the moss carder bee are considered “vulnerable” - meaning that their natural habitats need to be protected for these species to be able to continue to reproduce in the wild. These animals also exist in other regions and outside of the Nordics, with varying threat levels from none to urgent.

Reasons for endangerment

  • The white-backed woodpecker is affected by logging
  • The harbour porpoise is affected by toxins and noise pollution
  • The arctic fox’s habitat is at risk due to climate change
  • The lynx is affected by traffic and illegal hunting
  • The moss carder bee is contending with a decreasing number of flowers

Preserving endangered animals is a complex effort that requires collective action. Everyone can do something, and by launching this new Search experience we hope that we can help people in and outside of Sweden learn more about the issues at hand and experience some of nature's beloved creatures up close.

Whether you want to take a photo with the arctic fox or teach your family about the moss carder bee, the #Google3D animals are available for anyone to try out starting today through Google Search.

Welcome to spooky season

The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air, which means it’s about time to bust out the costumes, stock up on some candy and carve a pumpkin or two. If you need a little inspiration, look no further than these spooky Search and Maps trends we collected.

Pumpkin to Search about

Whether you plan on spending the day watching Halloween classics or trick-or-treating in a clever costume, we’ve got Search trends to give you some ideas. (Be sure to also check out our annual Frightgeist for the most-searched Halloween costumes across the U.S.)

Most-searched Halloween movies over the past week in the U.S.

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Friday the 13th
  3. Hocus Pocus
  4. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  5. Halloweentown

Already seen these? Grab the popcorn (or the candy corn) and virtually explore the filming locations of your favorite cult classics on Google Earth.

Moving on to costumes! Picking the right outfit — whether it’s just for you, a group or your furry friend — is important. Here are the costume searches that have been trending this week in the U.S.

Trending Halloween costumes:

  1. Squid Game
  2. Gorilla
  3. Britney Spears
  4. Carnage
  5. Venom

Trending couples costumes:

  1. Trixie and Timmy Turner
  2. Bonnie and Clyde
  3. Skid and Pump
  4. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  5. Cosmo and Wanda

Trending dog costumes:

  1. Squid Game
  2. Race car
  3. Vampire
  4. Donkey
  5. Lobster

If you still aren’t sure what to wear, you can ask Google Assistant for some last-minute costume ideas, too. Just say "Hey Google, what should I be for Halloween?”

Maybe you’d prefer to boo-rowse aisles IRL without a crowd. We checked the most popular times on Google Maps to visit costume shops across the U.S. and found they’re at their busiest on Saturday and Sunday around 2 p.m., and least busy before 2 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

But, beware! Last-minute shoppers might be in for a scare. Google Maps searches for costume stores in the U.S. peaked on Halloween day last year — nearly doubling from the week before, and nearly tripling from October 10th. So get your costume and accessory shopping done early for the best chance of finding what you’re looking for.

For those interested in refreshments or snacks to follow all that trick-or-treating, you can see which Halloween drinks are being searched for by state. And of course, everyone has to know what their state prefers: candy corn or M&Ms?

Map of the United States showing what the uniquely searched Halloween drinks trends are per state.
Map of the United States showing what the most searched Halloween candy is per state, with Candy Corn being the most searched in the majority of states.

What unlocks a haunted house? A spoo-key

Of course, Halloween isn’t only about get-togethers and candy — some of us enjoy a little scare. Head over to the Google Maps guide to Halloween and check out Local Guide Kimbra Kasch's favorite spooky spots. And Kimbra should know: She grew up in a haunted house in Portland, Oregon!

Google Maps’ guide also has plenty of other places to discover for the fall festivities, so be sure to take a look.

Picture of grey Nest doorbell with spooky skeleton shadow.

Boooooos there?

Change up your Nest Doorbell ringtone to our “Halloween” theme to greet your guests with Halloween-inspired ghoulish ringtones which include an evil laugh, skeleton dance, ghost, howling werewolf, cackling witch and more. Ringtones are available globally on the Nest Doorbell (battery) and Nest Doorbell (wired), formally known as Nest Hello, through October 31, 2021.