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Lengthy snippets dabble in paradox

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Google has pushed out two (minor) changes to its web-dominating search engine. Search-results pages now offer longer site descriptions, and a longer list of searches is provided that may or may not improve your initial query.

According to a blog post from the Mountain View Chocolate Factory, both changes will "help guide users more effectively to the information they need."

Beginning today, when you enter more than three words into Google.com the engine will provide a more extensive "snippet" describing each result.

"When you enter a longer query, with more than three words, regular-length snippets may not give you enough information and context," the company explains. "In these situations, we now increase the number of lines in the snippet to provide more information and show more of the words you typed in the context of the page."

If you key in "earth's rotation axis tilt and distance from sun," for example, Google says it can now covers all aspects of that query in a single snippet.

It's unclear whether a longer snippet should still be called a snippet.

The company also says it has rolled out a new technology "that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search." Using this algorithmic tweak, Google has expanded the list of related searches at the bottom of each results page. If you search on "principles of physics," for example, the Chocolate Factory says its engine will suggest additional queries involving "angular momentum," "special relativity," "big bang," and "quantum mechanics."

Google has offered such suggestions in the past, but today it has expanded their reach. "We are now able to target more queries, more languages, and make our suggestions more relevant to what you actually need to know. Additionally, we're now offering refinements for longer queries - something that's usually a challenging task."

Related searches are now served up in 37 different languages. ®

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