Google prefers local sites

Google sometimes gives a range of sites tailored to what it thinks the user wants. (I went on at great length about this over a year ago).

I haven’t been too worried about censorship, as long as it isn’t relevant to what I’m researching. But today, I wanted a recipe for kofta curry. I did not want a German recipe, because curries hit Germany later and the recipes are more often simplified. For all I know they may contain a tin of pineapple.

But I didn’t expect to get a German recipe – I was using the Google toolbar in Firefox and it went to google.com.

I entered kofta curry. The first hit was in German, from Kenya. There were Indian and Pakistani nationals in Africa, and the recipe looked OK, except that there was a note defining garam masala and telling you if you couldn’t find it to use any commercial curry power instead – as though garam masala and curry powder were anything like each other.

The second hit was also in German. Actually, it was the same recipe, as I noticed first from the curious inclusion of 600 ml chicken broth.

The third hit was a site with a very bad machine translation into German – machine translations of recipes need care.

bq. Entfernen Sie alle Knochen vom Fleisch, Ordnung weg vom Fett und Würfel in die 1″Stücke. Kühlen Sie für 1/2 Stunde. Reiben Sie sie wohl und mischen Sie alle Fleischmischung und -form in Kugeln von 1″size. Fritieren Sie bis goldenes Braun.
Für Kofta Curry:
Mittelgrosse Zwiebeln – 3
Colves des Knoblauchs – 3 – 5 …
Holen Sie, um zu kochen, fügen Sie vorbereitete koftas und simmer für 45 Minuten hinzu. Schmücken Sie mit gehackten Korianderblättern, bevor Sie dienen.

At least there’s no chicken broth in it.

Anyway, a search on
kofta curry site:uk
did the trick. Not sure about the milk, and there don’t have to be almonds, but the amount of green chilli can be varied and other ingredients taken from other versions. I think kofta curry is bit like chop suey, not the most authentic Indian recipe.

At all events, with English apparently becoming the global language, I feel a bit badly done by. What if this had been a recipe where the USA was the best source? Then the site:uk solution wouldn’t have worked, and it doesn’t work for all sites in the uk as it is. I see the toolbar offers special searches, which include my country and my local. An English language search might do here. But is that the end of my options?

12 thoughts on “Google prefers local sites

  1. how many pages are you getting?
    obviously i’m being offered the austrian link, you the german one so i’d like to see if there is a significant difference even there.

    when i enter kofta curry without quotes i get a return of 8,550 pages beginning with http://www.bawarchi.com/contribution/contrib98.html

    when i enter +”kofta curry” i get 2,510 pages beginning with
    www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~mjw/recipes/ ethnic/indian/dal-kofta-curry.html

  2. For kofta curry, no inverted commas, they claim 8550 (though I remember from the last time I tried to investigate this that the number may be deceptive).

  3. Oh, I see your details now.

    So: kofta curry 8,550, like you
    But http://www.bawarchi.com is my fourth. The first three I linked to above.

    “kofta curry”, again, 2,510
    But I get the same first three matches as before, and www-2.cs.cmu.edu etc. is my *seventh*.

    This is bizarre. They must have different services for Germany and Austria. Anyone in Switzerland or Britain or elsewhere want to try it? We’ll have everyone getting bad kofta curry recipes.

  4. What language is your system in and what preferences have you set in your browser for languages? And what does your “Google cookie” say?

    It might have to do something with that (if they are German that is).

    Apart from that I believe Google does indeed give different results depending on where you live. Same as the georgewbush.com thingy recently (didn’t you mention that as well?) they pretty much know where you are coming from based on your IP address. Seems to work for me as well, here are my results (in the order they came in):

    http://www.bawarchi.com/contribution/contrib98.html
    (which seems to be the same as kohlehydrat has)

    http://www.yumindia.com/Side%20Dishes/Daal%20Kofta%20Curry.htm

    http://www.indianchild.com/Recipes/gravies_and_masala/cabbage_kofta_curry_recipe.htm

    http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~mjw/recipes/ethnic/indian/dal-kofta-curry.html

    http://www.daawat.com/recipes/indian/leftovers/koftacurry.htm

    http://recipes.wenzel.net/p/peas_kofta_curry.html

    No German recipes in sight, even though I’ve got German set as 4th language in my preferences.

  5. hmmmmm.
    for “kofta curry” these are the results for my first return page:

    01.www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~mjw/recipes/ ethnic/indian/dal-kofta-curry.html
    02.www.indianchild.com/Recipes/gravies_and_masala/
    03.www.yumindia.com/Side%20Dishes/Daal%20Kofta%20Curry.htm
    04.www.rumela.com/recipe/indian_dish_dalkoftacury.htm
    05.www.recipezaar.com/recipe/getrecipe.zsp?id=94468
    06.www.bawarchi.com/contribution/contrib4661.html
    07. http://www.bawarchi.com/contribution/contrib98.html
    08.recipes.wenzel.net/p/peas_kofta_curry.html
    09.www.daawat.com/recipes/indian/ nonveg/seafood/fishkoftacurry.htm
    10.www.webindia123.com/cookery/curry/nonveg/meat/kofta.htm

    so your 3rd is my 10th.

    using firefox(old phoenix) browser 0.5, english language.
    win2k, english version.

    google preferences:
    Display Google tips and messages in: English
    Search for pages written in any language

  6. You’re right, Armin – actually, I remembered the browser thing after the last comment, because when I investigated this before I had IE set to English, but now I’m using Firefox. I had German followed by Turkish, and now I’ve put English at the top and I’m getting the same results as you. The number of hits is the same again.
    I don’t know where my Google cookie is, and presumably it makes no difference now. It’s rather important for translation research that I get a more English-biased choice.

    What have you got there apart from English and Scots Gaelic?!

  7. Frau Kohlehydrat: I corrected the list.
    I get Armin’s results for
    kofta curry
    and your results for
    “kofta curry”

    So I think we’re all getting the same thing if we set our browser language as English.

    I have Firefox 1.0 preview and XP Pro German

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