The ability of platforms like Twitter and Facebook to deliver updated information in real-time is pushing search giant Google to “freshen” up its own results in an effort to serve the most relevant data to users.
According to Google, this latest tweak marks a significant improvement to the company’s ranking algorithm and now impacts approximately 35 percent of searches to better determine when to give users more up-to-date relevant results.
“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,” Amit Singhal, a Google fellow who works on search, wrote in a blog post.
In effect, says Singhal, this algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness users are demanding.
After completing their Caffeine Web indexing system last year, Google engineers were able to dig deeper into results by crawling and indexing the Web for fresh content quickly on an enormous scale. This allowed the company to push forward with providing near real-time results.
"Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches," said Singhal.
"Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches."
If you're searching recent events or hot topics that might be trending on the Web you'll want the most recent information that may be only minutes old. For example, if you want to know about job growth in the U.S. the algorithm will now serve a combination of most recent information first followed by more historical data underneath.
Fresh results and historical data.
Other noted improvements
- Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as presidential elections. 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 or IBM earnings, you’ll recieve the latest information.
- Frequent updates. Now consider searches for information that changes often, but isn't considered a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, writes Singhal, if you’re in the market for a new car and want you probably want the most up to date information.
This isn’t Google’s first foray into real-time search. In 2009 they launched a service that incorporated Twitter posts that Google paid Twitter to use. The company allowed that contract to expire this past June.