New York Times on Google "Tweaking Its Search Engine"

Jun 4, 2007 - 10:00 am 0 by

Everyone is talking about the Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine article from the New York Times. Check out the Techmeme coverage and you can find dozens of summaries of the article.

I will summarize the article based on the three different forum threads I found.

WebmasterWorld has several comments including:

There seems to be just a little that we can glean from the piece - clearly meant for a mass audience. This bit caught my eye:

"He then unveiled his team’s solution: a mathematical model that tries to determine when users want new information and when they don’t. (And yes, like all Google initiatives, it had a name: QDF, for “query deserves freshness.”) ...THE QDF solution revolves around determining whether a topic is “hot.” If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current information. The model also examines Google’s own stream of billions of search queries, which Mr. Singhal believes is an even better monitor of global enthusiasm about a particular subject."

Matt Cutts of Google added:

To be completely honest, I was a little worried about Saul Hansell, a journalist for the New York Times, sitting in on some of our confidential quality meetings at Google. Even though everything was off-the-record, you can’t help but be slightly nervous talking about evaluation methodologies and confidential projects with a reporter in the room.

- Just because Google doesn’t always talk about search and journalists don’t always write about core search doesn’t mean stuff isn’t happening. Google devotes a ton of effort to improving our search in many different ways.
- Google makes a go/no-go decision on several different quality changes each week.
- If you want to build search loyalty, you have to get a lot of different things right.
- Google has many ways to prioritize feedback and tools to look at how to improve search.
- I’m glad we’re shedding light on some additional people at Google. Many people work behind the scenes to improve the user experience at Google, and we should look to highlight even more of those people.

DigitalPoint Forums has comments as well:

My biggest "wow" came when I read that Google changed their algorithms so frequently (6+ per week).

One item that surprised me was the comment on diversity of results. If after all the rankings are calculated for a search, the top 10 results don't properly reflect the diversity of views on that subject, the 10 results presented will be changed to reflect the diveristy.

Search Engine Watch Forums also has discussion on this article:

Among the topics discussed are how Google handles bug reports, and its own concerns with freshness of its results, including details on the development of the "Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)" solution that determines which queries should show results from new pages, and which should rely on established sites. The article also goes into detail about the 200+ "signals" that are fed into "classifiers" to calculate a page's relevance.

Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums, DigitalPoint Forums and WebmasterWorld.


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