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Google steps up Search with localized suggestions, auto-correct

April 16, 2010 |  1:54 pm

Potentially feeling pressure from Microsoft's Bing search engine, Google announced on Friday that it has improved its Search tool to help users find the content they're looking for faster.Suggest

Google has an auto-suggest feature, which suggests queries users might be looking for as they input words in the search box. To bolster that feature, the company announced that now considers a user's location when suggesting queries. So if a person in Chicago types "bull" into the search box, Google might suggest the NBA team. In other areas, the top suggestion relates to something else.

Google has also updated its spelling-correction feature. When a visitor misspells a query, Google looks at words the user has entered in the past and uses those other queries as clues to determine how the incorrect word should be spelled.

Finally, Google has decided to do away with its "Did you mean?" link whenever it believes a user misspelled a query on certain searches. According to the company, if it's highly certain that a user misspelled a word in a search, Google will deliver the results it believes the user intended to find. It hasn't totally eliminated the suggestion link, because users might sometimes be looking for something with an odd spelling, but obvious mistakes will be automatically corrected.

Google's updates probably won't have a profound impact on how people use the search service. But the company hopes it will help some folks get to their desired destinations sooner.

That element of speed is extremely important. As Microsoft's Bing search engine continues to gain ground in the search market, it's possible that if users find that Bing helps them find things faster, they might just opt for it over Google Search. As far ahead as Google is, it can't afford to be complacent.

-- Don Reisinger

twitter.com/donreisinger

Image: Google's new localized auto-suggest for people in Chicago. Credit: Google

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