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Google turns 15 and updates its search algorithm with Hummingbird

Expands search engine's use of its Knowledge Graph
Fri Sep 27 2013, 17:06
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SEARCH ENGINE GIANT Google is 15 years old today, and to celebrate the firm has introduced a set of features including an advanced search ranking system called Hummingbird.

Hummingbird refers to the search engine's algorithm revision, which expands Google's use of its Knowledge Graph, introduced last year as a way to help provide direct answers in search results.

The idea with Knowledge Graph was to bring a 'more human' search function offering answers without users having to be sent elsewhere. It understands the relationships between concepts, rather than simply matching keywords in documents.

Hummingbird sees an expansion to the Knowledge Graph so that it can provide answers to questions that require more complex results.

Google SVP of Search Amit Singhal used an example of searching for impressionist artists in a blog post to explain the new features Hummingbird brings, including a fresh comparison tool.

"Let's say you want to get your daughter excited about a visit to the Met. You can pull up your phone and say to Google, 'Tell me about Impressionist artists.' You'll see who the artists are, and you can dive in to learn more about each of them and explore their most famous works," he said.

"If you want to switch to Abstract artists, you can do that really easily with our new filter tool."

This filter tool lets you compare two things, for example, How much saturated fat is in butter versus olive oil by telling it, 'Compare butter with olive oil.' The new tool then gives insights by letting you compose your own answer:

"You can try this for some other things you might be curious about, such as dog breeds ('compare pekingese versus chihuahua') or celestial objects ('compare earth versus neptune') - and we'll keep adding more," Singhal said.

The 15 year anniversary celebration also brings a new look and feel for Google Search and adverts on smartphones and tablet devices.

"It's cleaner and simpler, optimised for touch, with results clustered on cards so you can focus on the answers you're looking for," Singhal added.

In the next couple of weeks, you'll also be able to download a new version of the Google Search app on the iPhone and iPad. 

Google launched on 27 September 1998, however there's a bit of confusion around whether this is the true inauguration, as the company filed for incorporation on 4 September 1998. Nevertheless, Google has given us an Easter Egg to distract us from that very uncertainty, in the form of a game of Piñata.

Our best score was 150, if you fancy challenging us. µ


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