Last week I reported that the Google Cache Showing Last Retrieve Dates in Minutes. Then we have been waiting for an official confirmation from Google on this.
Google's Matt Cutts awkwardly confessed that something was obviously up, but did so from the 'webmasters perspective' and not the Google engineer view.
Last night at the Google Blog, Peeyush Ranjan, Engineering Manager and Hong Zhang, Software Engineer, posted a post titled Finding fresh results. The post was then mysteriously pulled, but I have a copy, thanks to Google Reader.
Here it is:
We work hard to keep our search results as fresh as possible so that they reflect the most up to date content on the web. However, given the immense medium the Internet is, it's hard to find all those pages that have just come into existence and make them available when people come looking for the latest information on new topics, whether it's a highly anticipated cell phone launch, news about a popular celebrity or the latest political maneuvers. What makes providing the latest information harder is the small amount of time we have between the page creation and when we'd like to serve those results to you.
Despite these challenges, one thing should not be hard: finding the freshest results on the page. To make it easier for you to spot the newer pages among the search results, we are now going to tell you how long ago we've seen a page containing what we think you're looking for.
For example, if on August 6th you were searching on Google.com for latest financial information following the Friday financial sector action, here's how that result would have looked in the past:
From this you could only see that we crawled this page at a day level granularity. But now when you do this search you will also be able to tell how long ago we noticed this page, so you can quickly pinpoint which of these is results is likely to contain more recent information. Here's the same example showing the annotation that tells you there's something new in the results we've seen recently.
So if you're looking for the most recent content on the web, this change should make it easier to find. And if you're a webmaster looking to tell us about all the new content on your site we haven't looked at yet, check out our support for sitemaps.
Here is a full size screen capture from Google Reader.
I wonder why Google pulled this?
Forum discussion continued at WebmasterWorld.
Update: Google has now uploaded the post, several hours later.