New algorithm for more useful featured snippets in Google Search

Brink

Staff member
mvp
Sometimes when you use Google, you’re seeking information when timeliness matters, even if your query doesn’t spell that out. For example, when you search for something like “income brackets,” it’s likely that you’re looking for this year’s tax information, not last year’s.



U.S. income brackets were updated for 2019, so recent information is most helpful.

On the other hand, for many queries, the most useful information isn’t necessarily found among the most recent web results. For instance, if you ask “Why is the sky red at sunset,” the underlying explanation doesn’t change over time, and the clearest description is often found on an older page. Prioritizing fresh content wouldn’t necessarily yield better results.

At the core of Search is language understanding, and our systems don’t understand language the same way humans do. This is why we’re constantly developing new ways to better understand your searches and provide relevant results, especially in cases where there is useful context that is implied, like whether freshness matters.

As part of our ongoing efforts to make Search work better for you, a new algorithm update improves our systems’ understanding of what information remains useful over time and what becomes out-of-date more quickly. This is particularly helpful for featured snippets, a feature in Search that highlights pages that our systems determine are most likely to have the information you’re looking for. For queries where fresh information is important, our systems will try to find the most useful and up-to-date featured snippets.

Here are some examples where fresh featured snippets are especially helpful. You might be looking for information that is updated on a regular basis, like the next full moon, the winner of a reality TV show, or upcoming holidays.



Other information gets more accurate over time. For example, as an event approaches, we learn more specific details. A fresher page about an upcoming TV premiere might have more specific information and other useful content, like trailers, that you can click through to view.



Sometimes a query is related to current events, so fresh sources are particularly important. If you’re searching for a food recall, for example, you probably want to find the most recent information with guidance for that specific issue.



Above: Before launch, a snippet pointing to less recent information. Bottom: After launch, information about the most recent recall.

Content on the web is always changing—sometimes at rapid speed, depending on the topic—so our results for any given query can change along with it. (In fact, that’s why you may not currently see some of the results above.)

We strive to always update our systems to keep our results relevant and useful. Some of the changes we make may not always be obvious, but we hope we are always able to help you find the fresh information you’re looking for.

Source: Finding fresh, helpful information through featured snippets
 

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