Where do search engine results come from?

March 9th, 2011

We use search engines to help us answer practically any question we may have. If these search engines are giving us the most relevant results, why do those results vary so much?

The reason behind that inconsistency has a lot to do with the constant evolution of search algorithms. Google and Bing have both been making big updates to their algorithms that affect the search results you get. What are those updates?

Google

Google’s search algorithm has undergone a lot of changes in recent weeks. The biggest and most recent change to the algorithm is the suppression of results from what Google refers to as content farms.

Content farms are companies that employ a large number of writers whose job is to produce lots of content that is designed to satisfy search algorithms without much actual or factual content. The main goal of these companies is to generate ad revenue by gaining more page views.

Google’s hope is to place higher quality websites at the top of search results. Google’s new algorithm uses advances in computer intelligence, such as mimicking human understanding, and it could help produce more relevant results. Google is also using Twitter postings to focus on real-time results.

Bing

Bing calls itself a “decision engine,” meaning instead of searching for results that could be relevant, it claims to know what you’re searching for and finds it.

One of the big steps Bing has taken was to integrate social media results. Bing highlights items that your friends have shared or “liked” over Facebook. Doing this gives users the opportunity to find what’s most relevant to them as well as their friends.

Searching using two different search engines can garner quite different results but, in most cases, the results will always be what that site deems relevant to you personally.

If you’re interested in learning more about the changes to Google’s search algorithm, take a look at this New York Times article.


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