Google has made changes to the way it indexes web pages so that searches produce newer and more relevant content. More emphasis will now be put on ‘fresh’ content, such as up-to-date news stories about a particular topic. For example, when search for an event that occurs at regular intervals, such as the Olympics, Google will assume you want information about 2012 London Olympics rather than a previous Olympics, unless you specify otherwise.
Similarly, if you search for a topic where information changes regularly, such as mobile phone reviews, for example, sites with the most recently updated information will be pushed towards the top of the rankings so you can avoid reviews that are out of date.
While this move sounds like good news for everyone who uses the web, it’s possible that it could be abused. Website owners desperate to attract traffic could potentially re-post existing pages about a certain topic, adding just small amount new information or a few new keywords, to try and push their site to the top of the search results. This could mean that instead finding useful informative articles, searchers will see only hastily written articles containing little valuable information.
However, Google insisted that freshness wasn’t the only quality it was looking for in search results. It would also take topicality and quality into account, although it didn’t outline how exactly these are assessed.
Google has come under fire for changes it’s made to Google Reader. Earlier this month, it introduced a new design and let users share content on the Google+ social network. However, it also stopped users writing comments and becoming ‘friends’ with and following each other. Dozens of threads complaining about the changes sprang up on the Google Reader help forum, prompting Google software engineer Alan Green to write on the official Reader blog: “Retiring Readers’ sharing features wasn’t decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus better experience across all of Google.”