Google alters algorithm to make results more fresh

The Web giant makes changes to bring the most recent Web content to its search results, a move that affects about 35 percent of all searches.

Google altered its search algorithm today to bring in more timely topics, a move that affects about 35 percent of all searches.

The Web giant said it's trying to surface the most relevant results to users, and with more and more real-time data popping up on the Net, Google changed its algorithm to find it.

Google Amit Singhal
Google's Amit Singhal Stephen Shankland/CNET

"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, and 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," Google Fellow Amit Singhal wrote in a blog post.

In June, Google completed its Caffeine Web indexing system that provided "50 percent fresher results," the company said then. With that tool, Google altered the algorithm to better determine when to deliver those more up-to-date results.

So now, when users search, for example, "Occupy Oakland protests," Google returns results that are news heavy, surfacing links to articles from newspapers that may be only minutes old. When it comes to recurring events, such as presidential elections or corporate earnings results, the new algorithm produces results that are most recent unless the search specifies otherwise.

"Different searches have different freshness needs," Singhal wrote. "This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers."

Google search results after the company improved freshness in the algorithm Google

About the author

Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).

 

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