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Google search seeks to understand users, queries, and Web pages

Ranking search results properly depends on an understanding of who's searching, what they meant when they searched, and what's on every Web page.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Stephen Shankland/CNET News.com

Google has been sharing more about how its search engine works, and we got another installation in a series of blog posts on Wednesday: details of Google ranking.

The post--the second by Amit Singhal--will be familiar to close watchers of Google or to those who have spent time listening to recent executive speeches from Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search and user experience, and others. But it's still worth a read: it sheds some light on a process that many people probably see only as imponderable magic or simpler than it really is.

In short, Singhal describes various parts of the search problem. Google must have "understanding" of the pages it indexes, the queries people type into the Google search page, and attributes of the searcher such as what region the user is searching from.

Singhal indulges in a little self-congratulation about the quality of Google search results. But like Google's chief engineer in charge of search quality, Udi Manber, he also takes pains to emphasize that "search is nowhere close to being a solved problem."