Google Localizes Google Suggest, “Improves” Spelling Suggestions

Google announced last week a couple of improvements in its regular search engine. I wasn’t thrilled with either of these improvements, though I can see how they will make casual searching easier.

Google Suggest has now been tailored to specific areas in the United States in addition to specific countries. So if you’re in North Carolina and you search for Hurricanes, you might get suggested pointers to the professional hockey team before you get pointers to things like hurricane preparation and information about hurricane season. I wish there was some way to turn this off; often my searches don’t have much to do with geographical area. I did find that just moving my search to changed the suggestions, but in some cases the suggestions were for things in the UK…

Google has also implemented more spelling suggestions for names. You’ve probably seen that if you do a search and misspell a word, Google will suggest the correct spelling and that’s okay 99% of the time. But when I’m searching for a name, it can be a bit annoying, because Google not only suggests the correct spelling but goes ahead and chucks what it thinks is the correct spelling into the search results.

Say I’m searching for Carolynn. There are plenty of people named Carolynn. However, there are more people named Carolyn and Google will a) suggest that as the correct spelling and b) put Carolyns in my search results. With all those Carolyns I might miss Carolynn Carey, the romance writer, Carolynn Bunch, the equine photography professional, and the artist Carolynn Desch. If you want to remove Google’s well-meaning results from your search, just put a + in front of the name you’re trying to find: +carolynn. It’ll change your results considerably (though strangely the result count doesn’t change much.)

(This also works for non-names too: try searching for chocolatte and then +chocolatte.)

And as long as we’re talking about spelling improvements, lemme mention that Google has also expanded its auto-correction in spelling to 31 languages across 180 domains with “more to come,” it is promised.