Google announced Thursday a significant update to their search algorithm, with claims that the update will affect up to 35% of total searches.
This is arguably the most significant update since that of June 2010, code-named "Caffeine," which defined search relevance with a greater emphasis on "freshness," including recent events, hot topics, current reviews and breaking news items.
Thursday's update builds upon "Caffeine" by being able to better determine which types of search require "freshness" as a search criteria. For example, if a user searches a recent news event, like Occupy Wall Street, the most recent news is likely to appear at the top of the search hits. But for evergreen searches, say, a recipe, the most popular or well-reviewed hits would take precedence.
But this newest update is significant especially for news events that are cyclical in nature, and which often fall under broadly defined search parameters, like "Presidential election" or "Olympics." For these two searches, the new Google update would give news results pertaining to the upcoming 2012 Presidential election, and the 2012 Olympics.
“This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need,” said Amit Singhal, a Google employee, in the company blog post.
Thursday's update is the second of this year's major Google search updates. "Panda" in February 2011 was geared toward the elimination of SEO "content farms" from Google search results, and affected 12% of results.
In 2009, Google launched Google Realtime Search, which tailored search to provide for real-time news updates on Twitter and Facebook. However, Google and Twitter failed to come to an agreement about access to Twitter's data stream, and Realtime Search was suspended.
However, in recent months Google has shown indications of bringing Realtime Search back, with Amit Singhal saying at a recent search engine panel that the company is "actively working" on bringing back the service, with data from Google+ and "a variety of other sources," rather than Twitter.