In an unusual update to search, Google is letting users know when the results they’re seeing are lower-than-average quality.
When Google is not quite able to match a user’s query with relevant results, it will display the following message:
“It looks like there aren’t any great matches for your search.”
Google does its best to provide the most relevant search results for a given query, but sometimes that’s not always possible.
There are failsafes in place to prevent this from happening, Google notes.
Misspellings could potentially lead to low quality results, which Google tries to circumvent by detecting typos and predicting the proper spelling.
Google also makes continuous improvements to its language understanding systems in search.
That’s how Google is able to provide relevant results even when the content doesn’t match word-for-word what is being searched for.
However, Google admits these systems do not always work perfectly.
There are even times when there simply isn’t information on the web that matches a particular query.
In those instances, Google will display a message letting searchers know when it’s not able to match the query with relevant content
Searchers are certainly free to browse through the results and see for themselves, but Google says you should probably trust its message:
“Starting today in the U.S., we’re rolling out a new message that lets you know when Google hasn’t been able to find anything that matches your search particularly well.
While you can still go through the results to see for yourself if they’re helpful, the message is a signal that we probably haven’t found what you’re looking for.”
Google may, for some queries, provide tips for how the query could be improved to return better results.
In the example provided by Google you can see it offers the following suggestion:
“Try using words that might appear on the page you’re looking for. For example, “cake recipes” instea of “how to make a cake.”
When possible, Google will provide some exact queries that can be used instead.
That shouldn’t be needed too often though, Google says, but it will help users save time that would otherwise be spent sifting through irrelevant results.
Related: How People Search: Understanding User Intent
Other Ways to Refine Search Queries
Google Search has built-in commands to help users refine their queries and find more relevant results.
Here are some you can utilize next time the results you’re seeing aren’t very useful:
- Social media searches: Put @ in front of a word to search social media.
- Price searches: Put $ in front of a number.
- Hashtag searches: Put # in front of a word.
- Exclude words from search results: Put – in front of a word you want to leave out.
- Search for an exact match: Put a word or phrase inside quotes.
- Search within a range of numbers: Put .. between two numbers.
- Combine searches: Put “OR” between each search query.
- Search for a specific site: Put “site:” in front of a site or domain.
- Search for related sites: Put “related:” in front of a web address you already know.
- See Google’s cached version of a site: Put “cache:” in front of the site address.
Note that in order for these operators to work there cannot be any spaces between the command and the search term.
For example, a search for site:searchenginejournal.com will work, but site: searchenginejournal.com won’t.
Those are just a handful of the many available search operators available.
For an exhaustive list see: Every Advanced Google Search Operator You Need to Know.