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Monday, November 14, 2011
Google Offers Peek Into Its New Search Algorithm

Internet websites on Monday, publishing for the first time a list of recent tweaks to its search algorithm.

In a blog post on Monday, Google shared the methodology and process behind its search ranking, evaluation and algorithmic changes. Here's a list of ten improvements Google has made to the algorithm from the past couple weeks:

- Cross-language information retrieval updates: For queries in languages where limited web content is available (Afrikaans, Malay, Slovak, Swahili, Hindi, Norwegian, Serbian, Catalan, Maltese, Macedonian, Albanian, Slovenian, Welsh, Icelandic), Google will now translate relevant English web pages and display the translated titles directly below the English titles in the search results. This feature was available previously in Korean, but only at the bottom of the page. Clicking on the translated titles will take you to pages translated from English into the query language.

- Snippets with more page content and less header/menu content: This change helps Google choose more relevant text to use in snippets. As the cpm,pany improves its understanding of web page structure, it is now more likely to pick text from the actual page content, and less likely to use text that is part of a header or menu.

- Better page titles in search results by de-duplicating boilerplate anchors: Google looks at a number of signals when generating a page?s title. One signal is the anchor text in links pointing to the page. Google found that boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so it is putting less emphasis on these. The result is more relevant titles that are specific to the page?s content.

- Length-based autocomplete predictions in Russian: This improvement reduces the number of long, sometimes arbitrary query predictions in Russian. Google will not make predictions that are very long in comparison either to the partial query or to the other predictions for that partial query. This is already the company's practice in English.

- Extending application rich snippets: Google recently announced rich snippets for applications. This enables people who are searching for software applications to see details, like cost and user reviews, within their search results. This change extends the coverage of application rich snippets, so they will be available more often.

- Retiring a signal in Image search: As the web evolves, Google often revisits signals that it launched in the past that no longer appear to have a significant impact. In this case, Google decided to retire a signal in Image Search related to images that had references from multiple documents on the web.

- Fresher, more recent results: As Google announced just over a week ago, the company has made a significant improvement to how it ranks fresh content. Google says that this change impacts roughly 35 percent of total searches (around 6-10% of search results to a noticeable degree) and better determines the appropriate level of freshness for a given query.

- Refining official page detection: Google tries hard to give users the most relevant and authoritative results. With this change, Google adjusted how it attempts to determine which pages are official. This will tend to rank official websites even higher in Google's ranking.

- Improvements to date-restricted queries: Google changed how it handles result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a specific date range.

- Prediction fix for IME queries: This change improves how Autocomplete handles IME queries (queries which contain non-Latin characters). Autocomplete was previously storing the intermediate keystrokes needed to type each character, which would sometimes result in gibberish predictions for Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.

Antitrust regulators investigate claims that the Google's search process might be biased toward its own business and operations. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is looking into complaints that Google's search results favor the company's other services, among other issues.

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