New Google updates make search results smarter and enhance your privacy

Google's getting better at answering questions – including what personal information might be online

Google search in 2022
(Image credit: Google)

You've probably noticed that when you search for human recommendations, whether that's the best SUV, the best guitar or the best solvent to get blood out of your favourite rug, the best answers often come from sites such as Reddit, Quora or subject-specific forums.

Google's noticed that too, and it's announced (opens in new tab) improvements to search that'll take you to that information more quickly. The new Discussions and Forums feature, which is rolling out in the US this week, will automatically pull forum results into your search results where appropriate. It may be a bit clunky at first, but it's a welcome improvement that should become more refined the more people use it.

It's part of a whole series of improvements coming to Google search (opens in new tab) on all your devices. Another clever feature is automatic machine translation to give you the most relevant news content irrespective of what language it's in – so for example if you're interested in the Mexican earthquake but don't speak Spanish, Google will translate and show you stories from Mexican news sources. For now it's only for French, German and Spanish, but more languages will be added over time.

One of the most interesting features is a very particular kind of search: Google is going to make it easier to find online information about you.

See what Google knows about you

Google's new "Results about you" feature started rolling out yesterday, 28 September, in Europe and the US. If you have it, you should now see a "results about you" menu item in the Profile section of your Google app. 

Announced back in May, Google will enable alerts to let you know if personal information about you is appearing online, with categories including personal contact information, contact information shared with intent to harm, illegal information and out-of-date information. Once identified, you'll be able to ask Google to remove it.

Google can't remove the data from the internet – for that you'll need to contact whoever hosts it – but removing it from search results makes a huge difference to its availability, so this is a very welcome new feature for anybody who has reason to worry about their information being shared online. 

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).