Those who don't live or haven't recently traveled to China may not have experienced this first hand, but Google Search has been known to be “inconsistent and unreliable” in mainland China — to use Google's words. Error messages like “This webpage is not available” or “The connection was reset” are common and those errant queries then prevent users from searching again for a period of time. In a blog post today, Google's search team said that, after “taking a hard look” at its own systems, the problem isn't emanating from Google's end, and is instead “closely correlated with searches for a particular subset of queries.” As a result, Google search will now be notifying Chinese users when their search terms are likely to cause these interruptions.
Can't help but wonder if they ran this past the Chinese government. They Who Decide would probably prefer to let users think there's something wrong with the search engine rather than rub it in their noses that we know this site exists but we won't let you go there.
This is a very interesting way to tackle this issue. I doubt the Chinese government was consulted about this at all. It is this blocking that helped with Baidu's runaway success in China. It may be too late for Google to regain their momentum, but at least the Chinese market will possibly understand that many of the Google performance issues may not have been the company's fault.