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11/4/2011
01:41 PM
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Google Delivers Timelier Search Results

Search algorithm adjustment will produce fresher content more often. Still missing: Access to Twitter's real-time feed.

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Google has adjusted its search algorithm to favor timely search results.

Google fellow Amit Singhal said in a blog post that the change affects about 35% of searches, a huge number considering the billions of search queries handled by the company every month.

Such changes generally send Web publishers and search engine marketers scrambling to adapt, as they try to understand why their formerly highly ranked websites have become less relevant in Google's eyes.

In January and again in February, Google tweaked its search algorithm to demote low-quality content in the wake of press reports about the amount of junk surfacing in Google searches. The February update was dubbed Panda, and subsequent Panda updates were deployed in April, May, and June.

[How did Google get into real-time search? Read Google Reinvents Search For Mobile Era.]

Having diminished the visibility of low-grade content--text churned out for content farms, Web spam, and the like--in its index, Google has returned to its effort to deliver the most timely search results.

Building on its Caffeine Web indexing upgrade last year, Google aims to make recent events and popular topics appear higher up in search results lists. The company also wants to make sure that product review searches return the most recent information available, rather than some article about a decade-old product that's no longer even made.

"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," explained Singhal.

So for searches like "NFL scores" or "occupy Oakland protest," results should be higher-quality and created more recently.

What's missing still, however, is access to Twitter's real-time feed. Twitter struck a deal with Google to provide access to its tweet data stream in late 2009. That deal expired in July this year and hasn't been renewed. So while Google's search results may be fresher, its selection of ingredients--the breadth of its index--isn't quite what it once was. Expect Google to remedy this by developing ways to leverage Google+ content.

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