• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:18am

Google

Google is a US company providing Internet-related products and services, including internet search, cloud computing, and software and advertising technologies. Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin with an unofficial slogan of “Don’t be evil”, the company has established itself in the mobile sector through its widely used Android operating system, and has a major presence in the smartphone market. 

BusinessCompanies

Google tweaks search engine to better serve users of mobile devices

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 12:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 9:01pm

Google has quietly retooled the closely guarded formula running its internet search engine to give better answers to the increasingly complex questions posed by web surfers.

The overhaul came as part of an update called “Hummingbird” that Google has gradually rolled out in the past month without disclosing the modifications.

The changes could have a major impact on traffic to websites. Hummingbird represents the most dramatic alteration to Google’s search engine since it revised the way it indexes websites three years ago as part of a redesign called “Caffeine”, according to Amit Singhal, a senior vice-president at the company.

He estimated that the redesign would affect the analysis of about 90 per cent of the search requests that Google gets.

Hummingbird is primarily aimed at giving Google’s search engine a better grasp at understanding concepts instead of mere words, Singhal said.

The change needed to be done, Singhal said, because people have become so reliant on Google that they now routinely enter lengthy questions into the search box instead of just a few words related to specific topics.

With the advent of smartphones and Google’s voice-recognition technology, people are also increasingly submitting search requests in sequences of spoken sentences that resemble an ongoing conversation. That trend also factored into Google’s decision to hatch Hummingbird.

Besides Hummingbird, Google also announced a few other updates to existing search features aimed at providing information more concisely so people won’t need to navigate to another website.

These changes are part of Google’s effort to adapt to the smaller screens of smartphones that aren’t well suited for hopscotching across the internet.

The additions primarily affect Google’s “Knowledge Graph”, an encyclopaedia-like box that increasingly appears at the top or alongside the search results, and Google Now, a virtual assistant that tailors key information suited to each user’s habits, interest and location.

Besides providing informational snapshots of famous people and landmarks, Knowledge Graph is now capable of comparing the attributes of two different things, such as olive oil and coconut oil. It will also be possible to ask it to sort through certain types of information, such as the creative evolution of various artists.

An upcoming update to Google’s search application for devices running Apple’s mobile operating system will ensure notifications about personal appointments and errand reminders are also delivered on smartphones or tablets running on Google’s competing Android software.

Google Now also will start flagging new developments and information about famous people who have previously piqued a user’s interest.

Any reshuffling of Google’s search rankings can have sweeping ramifications, because they steer so much of the internet’s traffic. Google fields about two of out every three search requests in the US and handles an even larger volume in some parts of Europe.

The changes could also drive up the price of Google ads tied to search requests if websites whose rankings are demoted under the new system feel they have to buy the marketing messages to attract traffic.

The search ads and other commercial pitches related to web content account for most of Google’s revenue, which is expected to approach US$60 billion this year.

Google’s renovations to its search engine haven’t triggered widespread complaints from other websites yet, suggesting that the revisions haven’t resulted in a radical reshuffling in how websites rank in the recommendations.

The Caffeine update spurred a loud outcry, because it explicitly sought to weed out websites that tried to trick Google’s search engine into believing their content was related to common search requests.

After Caffeine kicked in, hundreds of websites that consistently won a coveted spot near the top of Google’s search results had been relegated to the back pages or exiled completely.

Google disclosed the existence of the new search formula on Thursday at an event held in the Menlo Park, California, garage where chief executive Larry Page and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin started the company 15 years ago.

The company celebrates its birthday on September 27 each year, even though it was incorporated a few weeks earlier.

Share

Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or