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Previously Search Suggestions were based heavily on search frequency alone
So yes, these kinds of Instant results would have been potentially defamatory (borderline slander, I'd say, but IANAL) and IMO they should have been removed a long time ago. In fact, there was an evolving black-hat attack vector on a competitor's reputation: performing such searches in bulk, and of course, with certain stealth precautions to get around the Google safeguards.
Suggestions also seem to have changed the balance of plural versus singular forms - much to the dismay of marketers whose previous research had them focusing on the plural when only the singular now appears in Suggestions.
just wonder if it's partly a response to complaints from big corporations and/or advertisers.
Anyway, it's apparently a manual intervention, therefore a departure from Google's philosophy of letting everything be determined by algorithms.
And it could lead to more censorship in the future.
Not exactly - I'm sure it's still a change to the algorithm that determines what Suggestions to use. there was a flaw or edge case in the original heuristic that wasn't well-accounted for at first.
Originally, the Suggest tool was almost entirely based on onpage data
Just checking on this. You're talking about the Keywords Suggest Tool itself, not Suggestions provided in the dropdown below the query input box. Right?
I should add that on some of the very prominent widgets vs widgets searches, I'm still seeing the plural suggested instead of the singular, but that's on searches where there's a huge bias, onpage and in search, towards the plural.
The search queries that you see as part of autocomplete are a reflection of the search activity of all web users.
Just like the web, the search queries presented may include silly or strange or surprising terms and phrases. While we always strive to neutrally and objectively reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable), we also apply a narrow set of removal policies for #*$!ography, violence, and hate speech.
And along the lines of "silly" try typing in (not pasting) a query for [urethra function] - the minute you get to the "f" you see the #1 suggestion become "Urethra Franklin".
Here's a section of Google's newly updated Help page.
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.
...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.
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.
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.
thanks - good observations. I guess we can assume that the current Google Suggestions are a mash-up of a good number of factors, and in a junk drawer like that you might find all kinds of things!
if its auto suggesting such things i can see why and make my own mind up
Suggestions also seem to have changed the balance of plural versus singular forms...
I should mention, incidentally, that the Suggest and the Instant suggestions are not the same... they can't be since there are only 5 Instant suggestions vs 10 Suggest suggestions... but they seem to be picked in the same order from the same list.