Google News has become one of the most widely used and recognized ways to search through web stories that are fresh off the presses. That may be partially due to the overall popularity of Google and the fact that Google provides some news stories on its SERP for about one in six queries. But Google News was not a part of the original game plan for the company. Rather, it was a direct result of September 11th. In the decade since, Google News has grown immensely, and news of the death ofOsama Bin Laden – the instigator of the events of 9/11 – brings the site’s capabilities into a definitive new light.
September 11th created a new and unprecedented search for information online. “People around the world were trying to comprehend what had just happened,” says Krishna Barat, the original founder and current head of Google News, “and its implications to public safety, foreign policy, financial markets, and their own lives.” But the Google algorithm was simply insufficient to handle new information: ranking relied on having hyperlinks from numerous sites, and thus naturally avoided fresh content.
That’s why “storyrank” was invented. Storyrank attempts to examine the current news stories and see, based on how many groups are covering the same story, just how important a given topic is. This combines with numerous additional signals to create a news ranking system that is both effective and fast. With the development of storyrank, as well as Google News on the whole, the death of Bin Laden – as well as the details surrounding it – is being reviewed with far greater depth and breadth than it would have been given the tools of one decade ago.
In the first five days of May, the week after Bin Laden’s death, Google has compiled more than 150,000 pages that discuss Bin Laden’s death. Searches both in the news category and on standard Google searches have skyrocketed for terms about Bin Laden, his location, the U.S. military action, and much more. In many ways, the death of Bin Laden represents the close of a chapter in U.S. history, and serves as an ideal (and poignant) mile marker to guage the progress of how we think of the news.
[via the Google News Blog]