Google Search Updates For Sourcers: Quality And Semantic

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Aug 13, 2012

Last week, Google released two months worth of search changes. In June and July, 86 changes were made to the way Google searches its index of the web.

While some of those changes were minor (for example, getting better results when searching for sports scores or movie times), while some of them are more applicable to sourcers.

Through it all, one thing is clear: Google’s march toward semantic search didn’t take a summer break.

If you look through the list of updates, you’ll notice much of the same theme. Semantic type updates that help the search engine display the information you’re looking for directly or quality updates for their search results in general.

The size and speed of semantic results has been increased dramatically thanks to the recently released Google Now app available on select Google Android based phones. As someone who has tried using the app personally, I’ve been fairly impressed with the answers it can give you (and the quality of the voice recognition).

As a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri, it isn’t there. But the real advantage with Google’s development of the Google Now app is that it helps overall search functionality. So yes, while the questions I can ask it and get answers to right now are fairly rudimentary, all of that functionality helps increase the quality of Google search.

Oh, and there’s that quality word again. Google is continuing to refine the sites they include and updating their algorithm consistently. There hasn’t been a month that goes by that I haven’t seen a significant chunk of development work on tweaking their quality formulas.

There also seems to be some minor updates that might be impacting sourcers as well:

  • komodo. [project codename “Query Understanding”] Data refresh for system used to better understand and search for long-tail queries.
  • timeob. [project codename “Answers”] We’ve improved natural language detection for the time feature to better understand questions like, “What time is it in India?”
  • #81933. [project codename “Synonyms”] This launch improves use of query synonyms in ranking. Now we’re less likely to show documents where the synonym has a different meaning than the original search term.
  • zinc-4. [project codename “Synonyms”] This change improves efficiency by not computing synonyms in certain cases.
  • Zivango. [project codename “Refinements”] This change leads to more diverse search refinements.

Have you noticed any queries changed?  It may have been due to the many updates that happened in the last two months. Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen anything specific.

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