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Search major strives to provide more recent, relevant results

Google has unveiled a set of improvements in its powerful search algorithm. The changes are aimed at helping it better decide when and how to give people more relevant and up-to-date results. Numerous scientists, engineers and analysts associated with the search engine major continuously work on further refining search results, and with a good reason at that. Here’s why…

It has a whopping 90% share of the search engine market share. Microsoft’s search engine Bing garnered just about 4.5% share, only marginally ahead of its immediate competitor Yahoo. To maintain its lead, Google needs to make sure that its results are to the point. For this, the company’s experts make around 500 modifications to its search algorithms in a year, or one change a day, at least.

The engine answers back over one billion queries every day from people in more than 180 countries and almost 150 languages. It indexes several million webpages, and the challenge here is to provide only the most recent and most relevant result. This obviously should depend on the context and scope of each individual query.

For example, if you search for the term Olympics, you probably want to have some information about upcoming Olympics slated for the 2012 summer, and not the 1900 Olympics. With this in mind, Google Search makes use of a freshness algorithm so designed as to provide you with the most up-to-date answers.

So even if a user just types in Olympics sans any mention of 2012 event or venue, he or she will still get the information sought, presumably about the upcoming edition. Putting the whole process in perspective, an official Google blog notes:

“Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are 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, 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.”

Last year, Google completed its Caffeine web indexing system that lets it crawl and properly index the web world for fresh content on a vast scale and as quickly as possible. Scaling upon the efforts and momentum from Caffeine, it has now made a significant change to its ranking algorithm. It will impact nearly 35% of searches and help better determine when to give users more relevant and up-to-date results for the perceived varying degrees of freshness for a particular piece of information sought.