Technology

Google Search Snippets Receive Revamp For Increased Accuracy

google search snippets
Image source: Integrated Change/Flickr

The Google search snippets are reportedly being adjusted in order to provide more accurate and correct information.

Google Search Snippets

Google is by far the largest and most robust search engine, and many people rely on the service to provide them accurate and timely information. With the introduction of Google search snippets several years back, the company took the helpful yet potentially problematic step into providing a “definitive” answer at the top of the page based on what they feel is the most accurate and popular response. While Google’s algorithm for coming up with information is extremely advanced and does a good job of pulling up relevant information, it appears as if their search snippet feature has occasionally been completely wrong. As such, the Google search snippets are being updated to more accurately reflect correct information.

Examples of potentially problematic Google search snippets include suggestions that are completely out of left field. Google stated that “Last year, we took deserved criticism for featured snippets that said things like ‘women are evil’ or that former U.S. President Barack Obama was planning a coup.” They are apparently “working hard to smooth out bumps” with Google search snippets that they “continue to grow and evolve.”

“We failed in these cases because we didn’t weigh the authoritativeness of results strongly enough for such rare and fringe queries,” said Google.

A major issue that Google is working diligently to resolve is the accuracy of search results being dependant on how a question was framed. “This happens because sometimes our systems favor content that’s strongly aligned with what was asked,” says the statement. “A page arguing that reptiles are good pets seems the best match for people who search about them being good. Similarly, a page arguing that reptiles are bad pets seems the best match for people who search about them being bad. We’re exploring solutions to this challenge, including showing multiple responses.”

The majority of the problems with the Google search snippets are due to people trying to game the system and try to get the search engine to slip up and provide inaccurate information. While the likelihood of people taking Google’s apparent insistence that women are evil at face value is quite low, it’s still a concern for the tech giant if their algorithm is prioritizing biased and inaccurate answers to queries.

A Reputation To Uphold

Google deals with an incredible amount of searches each day, and these false search snippets likely only represent a small fraction of the results. However, Google has a vested interest in maintaining their status as a reliable search engine that provides relevant and useful results. By suggesting that Obama is planning a coup, they take a hit to their credibility no matter how obvious it is that the information isn’t correct. TechCrunch reports that a study last year by Stone Temple found a 97.4 percent accuracy rate for Google search snippets and related formats such as the Knowledge Graph information, reinforcing the fact that the search engine is usually incredibly accurate.

Provided the Google snippet stating that the company “now processes over 40000 search queries every second on average” is correct, however, that 3% is not an insignificant amount. By updating the Google snippets algorithm, the company can provide a better service to their users which may translate into better profits as the company obtains more information about web searches – applying that info to targeted campaigns for their advertisers.