Google Planning Query Enhancements

While Google announced several things at its Searchology event Wednesday that will be live this week, two of the more interesting innovations talked about are farther out on the timeline.

During his presentation, Udi Manber, Google’s VP of engineering, talked about two upcoming query enhancements intended to better understand user intent. The first is a technique that will add a supplemental query that Google’s algorithm determines may return more relevant results. Since people don’t always say what they think they say, Google is hoping to find what they mean, Manber said.

For instance, if a user searches for [overhead view of Bellagio pool], Google will perform that query, and also perform a second query for [Bellagio pool pictures], since that is likely to return better results. In another example, a search for [distance from Zurich Switzerland to Lake Como Italy] would lead Google to add a query for [train Milan Italy Zurich Switzerland].

The second query enhancement Manber discussed was cross-language information retrieval (CLIR). With this system, expected to launch later this year, Google will translate a query into another language, find results, and then translate those results into the original query language to present to the user. In effect, this allows users to seamlessly search documents in foreign languages as easily as they search in their own language.

UPDATE: As Chris Sherman points out, Yahoo has been doing this with Yahoo Search Translator since 2005.

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