Google Inc(GOOG.O) has overwrite its search algorithm, the foundation of the Internet’s dominant search engine, to better cope with the longer, more complex queries it has been getting from Web users.
Senior vice president of search Mr. Amit Singhal, told reporters on Thursday that the company launched its latest Search Engine Algorithm “Hummingbird” about a month ago and that it currently affects 90 percent of worldwide searches via Google.
Google is trying to keep pace with the evolution of Internet usage. As search queries get more complicated, traditional “Boolean” or keyword-based systems begin deteriorating because of the need to match concepts and meanings in addition to words.
According to Singhal, Hummingbird gives Google a much greater ability to understand searches not just as words but as real-world concepts. “As (users) have become more comfortable with search, they have started asking more complex questions of Google,” he said. Hummingbird, he explained, is far more effective on these long, complex questions in part because, as Google’s search engine crawls the web, it’s starting to grasp what documents are actually saying.
“Hummingbird” is the company’s effort to match the meaning of queries with that of documents on the Internet, said Mr. Singhal from the Menlo Park garage where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin conceived their now-ubiquitous search engine.
The changes are intended to support an increasingly conversational search engine that anticipates what users want before they ask. Among the small advances that will eventually start showing up in search results are a comparison tool that will, for example, show nutrition information when you search “butter vs olive oil” or planet size when you search “earth vs neptune.”
Google’s Knowledge Graph — a complex database that helps the company’s web services better understand real-world objects and the relationship between them — has also become more sophisticated, according to search vice president Tamar Yehoshua. He demonstrated how a simple search for “impressionist artists” would return a quick art history lesson right on the results page.
Using Google Now, Yehoshua showed how a simple, plainspoken request — “remind me to buy olive oil when I get to Trader Joe’s” — would create a location-specific reminder that the app would push to a mobile device once you’re near the store.
Google is far from the only app-maker to offer geo-aware notifications, though a new Google Now update for iOS should up the competition with Apple’s Reminders app by pushing those notifications straight to the lock screen. And no one can match Google for the seamlessness with which it brings together search, mapping, natural language processing, and voice recognition.
“Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You’d sit down and boot up your bulky computer, dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words,” Singhal wrote in a separate blogpost.
“The world has changed so much since then: billions of people have come online, the Web has grown exponentially, and now you can ask any question on the powerful little device in your pocket.”
Larry and Brin set up shop in the garage of Susan Wojcicki – now a senior Google executive — in September 1998, around the time they incorporated their company. This week marks the 15th anniversary of their collaboration.