New system will prevent errors
Google has adapted its search service in order to stop blockages that are triggered by sensitive words.
Prior to the modification, users were regularly receiving error messages such as 'this webpage is not available' or 'the connection was reset'. After a team of US-based engineers reviewed the 350,000 most popular search queries in China, it was discovered that the discrepancies 'correlated with searches for a particular subset of queries'.
Google's new search service will warn users when they enter terms that are likely to trigger interference from the Chinese authorities and in turn offer an alternative route that will allow them to bypass the censorship.
Now when users type in a common term, Google highlights the problem phrase and after pressing enter, a drop-down menu appears beneath the search box. Users will then have the option to edit their search term or continue with their original query.
In order to avoid connection problems, users may also refine their searches without the problem keywords. For instance, they can search using Pinyin terms (the system used to transliterate Chinese characters into Latin script), which will subsequently generate search results without causing a timeout.
Improving the search experience
The changes are expected to significantly reduce disruptions, in the process improving user experience in mainland China.
On Google Inside Search, Alan Eustace, senior vice president at Google Knowledge, stated: "We've said before that we want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services. Our hope is that these written notifications will help to improve the search experience in mainland China."
Google's increasing desire to work with Chinese law to provide a full local service is welcome news for UK-based search marketers, who previously have used Baidu to run campaigns in the country. "Businesses are looking to China for growth and the search market is no different," says Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword. "We already run campaigns on Baidu and the more Google does to strengthen its presence in the Chinese market, the more opportunity there is for companies to gain a foothold out there."