Google recently announced a search algorithm update that should promote fresher and more relevant search results. Although Google makes over 500 changes to its algorithm annually, the majority of updates do not affect a large percentage of search results. The new update, which seeks to build on the Caffeine web indexing system, will affect approximately 35% of all search queries.
Amit Singhal, one of Google’s primary engineers, said the following on The Official Google Blog:
“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.”
In 2007, Google first discussed a portion of the algorithm known as “Query Deserves Freshness” or “QDF.” The QDF portion of the algorithm, which utilizes intent analysis, has been activated in the past for search queries such as sports scores, news, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, seasonal holidays, live events, and other similar types of search queries. For example, if a search query is for “upcoming LA concerts,” Google understands that the search results should not include concerts from last year. The new algorithm change is designed to better understand the searcher’s intent and apply a formula similar to “QDF” on a larger scale that will impact more search queries.
While skeptics of the newest algorithm change are concerned that Google will show preference to less relevant “fresh” content rather than an older authoritative page, Google is aware of this possibility. Google has indicated they understand that different search queries will require varying degrees of “freshness” based on a searcher’s intent.
Since Google results were outdated for many search queries, users have been turning to Facebook and Twitter for more relevant “fresh” results. Google is hopeful this new algorithm change will provide users with the timely information they are looking for and prevent them from losing traffic to social media competitors.