How Does the Google Auto Complete Search Engine Work?

Written by stephanie foster
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How Does the Google Auto Complete Search Engine Work?
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When visitors type a phrase into Google, it usually offers several possible phrases to complete what they're typing.This is a useful, and sometimes humorous, experience for most people, as Google fills in what it thinks they want to search. It can even help in deciding how to phrase what the visitor is looking for, as Google comes up with suggestions that he may not have thought of immediately.

The Basics

Google's auto complete function is called Google Suggest. It works by finding searches done by other visitors that are similar to the search you are making. The suggested queries are chosen, in part, by the popularity of the query with other users. If the right query appears, you can click on it rather than continue to type. It may also include relevant information directly in the suggested results.

Your Previous Searches

If you are signed into your Google account, Google Suggest also remembers searches you have done in the past and may auto complete based on that. This happens only if you have "Web History" enabled. These will be combined with the regular suggestions Google makes for your search.

Instant Information

For some searches, Google Suggest will include what it thinks you are looking for right in the results. Type in a city name and the word "weather" and it may give you the weather report for that city. According to Google, this also works for "flight status, local time zones, area codes, package tracking, certain answers, definitions, calculations, plus currency and unit conversions." A link to a site that directly answers your query may also make the suggestion list.

Missing Suggestions

Sometimes the auto complete feature won't come up with any information for your search. This may be due to a new topic where Google does not yet have enough search data to predict the terms you are using in your search. Other topics aren't searched for often enough to generate suggestions. Some terms are removed from Google Suggest as a result of Google's policies toward subjects such as violence and hate speech.

Removing Suggestions

If you do not want Google to auto complete your searches, you can turn off the "Suggest" function. Go to your "Google Preferences" page and tell it to not provide query suggestions in the "Query Suggestions" section of that page. You can remove suggested searches that are based on your previous search history by going to your "Google Web History" and either removing that search query or turning off your "Google Web History." Logging out of your Google account will also turn off suggestions that were based on your search history but still display the regular suggestions.

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