The changes build on the Caffeine web indexing system that Google announced last year. Caffeine allows users to find newer, more relevant information by making it so that recently published posts surface much faster in search. When users search Google, they aren't searching the live web, they're searching Google's index of the web. Before Caffeine, the index was refreshed much more slowly, which meant that it could take longer to find relevant information that had been published very recently.
Thursday's changes make Caffeine even better at surfacing new information. According to Google, the changes will impact about 35 percent of searches and are designed to be better at knowing when you need the newest information (Kim Kardashian divorce) and when older posts will do (chocolate chip cookie recipe). Now when you search for current events, recurring events, or things like rankings that are regularly updated, Google will give you the freshest information possible.
Explaining the algorithm update, Google Fellow Amit Singhal wrote the following for the 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.
Search Engine Land offers a caution for users, writing, "Google wouldn’t say how 'freshness' is being determined." However, a Google rep had this to say to SEL about the algorithm update: "Freshness is one component, but we also look at the content of the result, including topicality and quality."
According to an analyst who spoke with ComputerWorld, "Google needs to continue to refine search in order to maintain its top-dog status."
That may be, but other search engines have a ways to go before they catch up with Google. In October, ComScore released their monthly search engine rankings which showed that 65.3 percent of searches were being done on Google. The runner up in the search race was Yahoo, which had only 15.5 percent of searches.