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Google tweaks search algorithm to be more relevant, recent

November 3, 2011 |  8:04 pm


Google has made changes to its search engine algorithm that it says will make its search results more relevant and recent.

"Given the incredibly fast pace at which information moves in today’s world, the most recent information can be from the last week, day or even minute," Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, said Thursday in a blog post announcing the algorithm changes. "Depending on the search terms, the algorithm needs to be able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old."

Singhal said that Google's changes have improved search results and follow the completion of the company's Caffeine Web indexing system last year.

Caffeine "allows us to crawl and index the Web for fresh content quickly on an enormous scale," he said. "Building upon the momentum from Caffeine, today we're making a significant improvement to our ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35% of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness."

Among the areas the changes seek to improve are recent events and trending topics, regularly recurring events and items frequently updated.

From the Google blog post:

  • Recent events or hot topics. For recent events or hot topics that begin trending on the web, you want to find the latest information immediately. Now when you search for current events like [occupy oakland protest], or for the latest news about the [nba lockout], you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old.
  • Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as annual conferences like [ICALP] or an event like the [presidential election]. Without specifying with your keywords, it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago. There are also things that recur more frequently, so now when you’re searching for the latest [NFL scores], [dancing with the stars] results or [exxon earnings], you’ll see the latest information.
  • Frequent updates. There are also searches for information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, if you’re researching the [best slr cameras], or you’re in the market for a new car and want [subaru impreza reviews], you probably want the most up to date information.

The last time Google changed its search algorithim, back in February, hundreds of websites that fell in the company's valued search rankings complained, arguing that they were unjustly identified as "content farms."

Will there be a backlash to Google's new changes? Time will tell.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screen shot of Google search results. Credit: Google