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>> Actually, that is Google's core business, and from the amount of revenue it's generated most likely harder than rocket science.

You're talking about all of the work needed to make a search engine good, I'm talking about the specific algorithm needed for that particular type of query (rare, obscure, easily misspelled word). Different scopes.

And again, my observation in that bullet point is that, imho, the "torsoraphy" type of query could have been improved by something like the "close enough to rare word? + does wiki page exist?" algorithm, rather than copying.

Re: recording click history being shady: I don't really see what's so fundamentally different between that and recording surfing habits via ads. It goes back to the first point: Google could say they don't use that data to improve SERP relevance, but we're going on faith on that claim.

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