I’m Confused

I still don’t understand how Google decides that searches are or are not related.

Take yesterday’s top searches, for example. Number One, by a ten-to-one margin was “St. Patrick’s Day”. Google says that related searches are “st patricks day,” “saint patricks day,” “st patrick,” and “when is st patrick’s day*”. Well and good. Except that “leprechaun” came in at Number Five on the day and “shamrock” made it to Number Fourteen. (I could also include “corned beef and cabbage” and its related search “corned beef and cabbage recipe” at Number Nine on my “I’m puzzled” list, but I’ll cut Google a break.)

* Is this the latest sign of the decline of civilization: on the day before St. Patrick’s Day, people don’t know when it is?” Or is it just that we’ve reached the point where it’s faster and easier to ask Google than to look at a calendar?

Is there really so much search action for shamrocks and leprechauns the rest of the year that the big G doesn’t think they’re related to Sam Patrick?

OK, maybe I’m expecting too much, thinking Google will pair up peripherally-related topics. But wait!

The Number Two search yesterday was “Dancing With the Stars”. That has “Suzanne Somers,” “Noah Galloway,” “Redfoo,” “Robert Herjavec,” and “Dancing With the Stars 2015” as related searches. So peripherally-related topics have been linked in. Unless you’re going to try to tell me that DWtS is the only reason someone might search for Ms. Somers.

And worse, Number Four was “Rumer Willis” with related searches “Demi Moore,” “Bruce Willis,” and “dwts” (emphasis mine). Why isn’t “dwts” a related search for “Dancing With the Stars” and why aren’t searches for Ms. Willis being counted for the show, just as Ms. Somers’ are?

More inconsistency: “Charlotte McKinney” made it to Number Seven on the list on the strength of her DWtS appearance, and she doesn’t even have the show on her list of related searches. Ditto for Willow Shields and Riker Lynch (Numbers Eleven and Fifteen, respectively), who probably wouldn’t even have hit Google’s Trending list without the DWtS connection.

How about it, Google? Want to clear up the mystery for us? Or should we just assume it’s all done randomly?


You may have noticed, by the way, that I didn’t mention the Number Three search on Google yesterday. Amazingly enough, it had nothing to do with either St. Patrick’s Day or “Dancing With the Stars”. It was “Dairy Queen”. More than 200,000 people checked with Google, apparently trying to confirm that yesterday was Free Cone Day.

Now there’s a holiday Google really should have used Google Now to promote. After all, who wouldn’t like to be notified about free ice cream? OK, maybe not the residents of the Boston area, who have been hit with more than nine feet of snow this year, with more on the way. But the rest of us? Give us the option, Google!

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