Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary
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Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary

The results of the Google search engine and the graphic form in which it displays them does not depend only on our search, Google makes assumptions about our question and infer why we want the information . These inferences, inscrutable for the users of your service, strongly influence the results and the way they are displayed. It is not just what we are looking for, Google will use the previous information that it has from us, or that it can obtain from our device to infer how, where and also who performs the search. With this information, Google, using the rules that it deduces from the search text, decides which results are most relevant to us at this given moment .

Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary - Your Technology BlogThe first “assumption” is not such, but a general rule, Google always decides that if someone has paid to put an ad on the results page of our specific search, then we are interested in these ads themselves. In the words of the company itself in its help on the results page: “ If we consider that an ad could help you find what you are looking for , we may show ads at the top of the results page or on the right side. You will know that it is an ad and not a search result by the yellow ad icon next to the URL ”(the bold ones are ours).

But leaving aside the appearance or not of ads in the results of our search, the next thing it is up to Google is to decide what we are looking for. Long ago, simple results in the form of a list gave way to much more structured answers through special features that can be activated in searches, or decided by the search engine itself . Although in future articles we will describe these structures, today we will focus on Google results that include a dictionary section.

The special “search dictionary” feature

Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary - Your Technology BlogLet’s see a first example of the way Google displays information based on the purpose of our search. When Google assumes what we want the search for, one of its answers may be that what we are looking for is the definition of a word. In each case it will offer us a different distribution of results, and different results.

If Google doesn’t return a definition to a word, we can force it by starting the search with “define” . In the following example we see the difference between searching for “pharmacy” and searching for “define pharmacy”. In the first case, the dictionary box does not appear, which does appear in the case of using “define” before the search.

Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary - Your Technology Blog

On the left, the search “pharmacy” does not show a dictionary section; On the right, the search “define pharmacy” shows the dictionary section.

This section of dictionary used by Yolanda Gandara in the journal JotDown the dictionary Oxford Spanish online . In the event that a definition is not available, it will search for other definitions on the Web and will indicate it in the definition box indicating “Definitions on the Web. 

The dictionary section adds a drop-down subsection of “ Translations, origin of words and more definitions ”, which includes a drop-down to choose the language into which we want to translate the word.

The special feature “translator”

Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary - Your Technology BlogAnother option to use Google is to start the search with the word “ translate ” or with the word “translate”, in which case Google will open a translation section at the top of the results, which will allow us to choose different languages, listen to the translation or open the Google translation page .

Other dictionaries

But search engines, and Google in particular, are not the only possible solution, there are other applications that can help us. These applications are usually directly on the Web so it will not be necessary to install anything on our device, as a counterpart we must be connected to the Internet, either via data connection or via Wifi, to be able to use them. If this were an impediment, there are dictionary applications that store data on the mobile device and can always be consulted even if we do not have an Internet connection.

Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary - Your Technology BlogAs an example of an online dictionary we have the application of the RAE Dictionary. This application has been somewhat stopped, the current version is from July 2014, but it will be very useful to have direct access to the new web query application of the 23rd edition of the dictionary, which expands the search possibilities and allows navigation within the Dictionary . This Web, accessible directly from the previous application in a link that appears in the header of all the definitions, has been made, like the application, by the Royal Spanish Academy in collaboration with the Espasa Calpe publishing house. For offline dictionaries other publishers such as Collins or Espasa Calpe They have an extensive catalog of dictionaries, covering both language dictionaries and synonyms and antonyms dictionaries, as well as some specialized dictionaries.

Understanding Google I: the search engine as a dictionary - Your Technology Blog

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