People do type questions into search engine search boxes and expect meaningful answers.
The best search results aren’t always found based upon matching the words in the questions to pages that might also contain those questions or similar questions. What strategies might be used by the search engines to provide a good user experience?
A paper from Google researchers on Question Answering, Statistical Machine Translation for Query Expansion in Answer Retrieval (pdf), looks at automated strategies for understanding and answering questions that people might type into a search box.
I’ve been finding answers on how to do things on the web for years, by looking for frequently asked questions (FAQs) pages, and tutorials. Usually those searches involve using those words (FAQ or tutorial) in my queries, along with a couple of words related to what I want to learn how to do.
For example, to join words together from one box in excel to another, I might type into Google the following: