Google Keeps Tweaking Search Results, Leaving Little Room for Rivals

Google just announced two new refinements to its search engine today, continuing to leave little room for competitors to get a foothold. The tweaks, announced in a Google blog post this morning, generally aim to produce better results for search queries with lots of keywords in them:

* There’s now a “searches related to:” list at the bottom of search results pages that provide other keyword strings related in concept to your search, especially for longer strings of words.

* Longer keyword searches of three words or more will bring up a bit of a snippet of text from relevant pages, giving people a better idea of whether that page is worth clicking on.

The first and most important change is based on the Orion search technology that Google acquired in late 2006. This so-called semantic search, which helps people find related concepts, based on the meaning of the words and not just matching the words themselves, is something many people are working on, with limited success so far. One recent entrant is WolframAlpha from noted Mathematica inventor Stephen Wolfram. Microsoft also bought the semantic search startup Powerset last year. For its part, Yahoo has been offering Search BOSS to offer other Web developers ways to use its technology to create custom search engines.

But Google clearly isn’t sitting still, so it will be as hard as ever for rivals such as Microsoft and Yahoo to catch up.

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