Robert_Charlton - 10:50 pm on Sep 11, 2010 (gmt 0)
Forgive in advance... I see this is going to get long. It's leading up to a question....
Here's a section of Google's newly updated Help page.
In a discussion from early October 2009, about Google Suggest, I cite that help page, which has changed quite a bit since then....
Google Suggest - Can We Affect the Negative Entries?
In the quote that I'd posted from the page, I'm here adding emphasis to highlight one of the main changes....
As you type, Google Suggest communicates with Google and comes back with the suggestions we show. If you're signed in to your Google Account and have Web History enabled, suggestions are drawn from searches you've done, searches done by users all over the world, sites in our search index, and ads in our advertising network. If you're not signed in to your Google Account, no history-based suggestions are displayed.
I don't know when the page changed, but the above wording was up there for the several times I subsequently checked it. I wasn't just relying on the above alone, though. I mentioned in the thread that...
...when Suggest was a Lab project the Google Suggest numbers originally correlated roughly with the the number of pages returned that contained suggested target phrases, not with search popularity.
Additionally, there's the question of those Microsoft directory searches I mentioned...
While we can't discuss specific domain names or search terms here, we can mention, say "microsoft.com". Type it in the Google search box and watch how the suggestions change as you type each letter... and note what happens when you get to the dot in .com, and then the "c". Finally, you'll end up with a set of products associated with "Microsoft.com" and subdirectories on the Microsoft site, which are also of course associated with Microsoft.com.
I just tested this with Instant, and Microsoft subdirectories are still suggested. I can't believe that people remember these pathnames without help. It may be, though, that these are the residuals of what searchers did enter after they'd had the Suggest suggestions prompting them. I vaguely remember that some of the old MS directory searches suggest were really long.
In addition, I checked a variety of other prominent sites, and I noticed popular subdirectory suggestions. Checking now, on Adobe, if you type enough, you'll get this one: adobe.com/go/getair
I could be wrong, but I don't think that's a naturally popular search without some help, though it might be, as it's alliterative enough to be memorable. It also may have been a naturally popular destination at one point that was suggested by an earlier version of Suggest and now lives on as skewed data in memory. ;)
Note also this discussion, in which I discuss Google's "extrememly aggressive" spell suggestions, that I attribute this to phrase occurrance....
A Red "Did you mean: ____" Shows in Google Drop Down Suggestion
As I was seeing it, the red "Did you mean?" would pop up as queries were being typed, on searches where there was a common alternative spelling and where the misspelling occurred in less than 300 or so instances on the web. Where there was no common alternative, Suggest appeared to let it go. Search frequency also apparently entered into this.
I'll go a little further out on a limb about this and mention that from Google's phrase based indexing patents, and I don't have my fingers on the passage right now, the above feature is more or less predicted... that if there's a query without very many good results on the web, the phrase tables can be used to generate alternative suggestions.
So, the question is whether Google might still be factoring in phrase occurrence and destination popularity into the Instant/autocomplete suggestions.
If so, it might explain the perhaps skew now towards singular, perhaps intentionally to correct SEO skewing. It could be easily done algorithmically, I think, by looking a singular vs plural phrase occurrance on many sites, which, as I said, are targeting the plural even as they are mostly selling the singular.
I should add that the Negative Entry thread I cite above also discusses negative entries. I was basically just following my nose on that thread, as there wasn't much supporting discussion.