How Larry Page Thinks About Search

larry page

Photo: Google

Google’s SVP of the search division, Alan Eustace, stuck around to answer a few questions after today’s Google Inside Search event, and he gave some new insights into the way CEO Larry Page thinks about search.Here are some long term goals:

  • Answers, not just results. Page isn’t satisfied with the fact that Google only provides a set of disconnected Web results queries, and wants it to provide more organised and sequenced results. For instance, conducting a search on “what’s the best way to build a space suit?” might provide a set of instructional videos first, followed by businesses that can provide supplies, engineering resources, and so on to complete the actual task.
  • Providing relevant results BEFORE you search. Take the example of a person who’s suffering from a knee problem and has been researching surgery techniques. After his search is done, Google might get information that there’s a new experimental technique that can reduce recovery time by 30% — but there’s no way for the person to get that information until he conducts another search. Google would like to find a way to deliver this kind of information even when people aren’t actively looking for it.
  • Better context. Eustace gave the example of somebody planning a trip to New York next week, and asking a question like “what should I do in New York?” Google should be able to understand the question, provide a list of activities based on known interests, and then remember that you’re in New York during a certain time period when you conduct future searches.

Eustace also said that Google still gets more desktop searches than mobile searches, and that there’s an internal bet going on when mobile will surpass desktop. He wouldn’t give us the over/under date, but said he’s on the “sooner” side because mobile search has a kind of immediacy that is very appealing.

That’s not only the case with local queries — like “where’s a good cafe nearby?” — but also with general knowledge questions. Helping your kid answer a question like “why don’t babies drown in their mothers’ bellies?” immediately is a lot more satisfying than waiting until the next time you’re in front of a computer.

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