Google search algorithm gets updated to fend off Microsoft Bing

The company logo is displayed is at Google

The company logo is displayed is at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2010) (Credit: AP)

Google Inc. unveiled updates to its Internet-search services that will improve query results, seeking to keep a step ahead of competitors such as Microsoft Corp.’s Bing.

In the biggest overhaul of its algorithm since 2010, Google’s website will give better ranked results for longer queries, Amit Singhal, senior vice president of search, said at an event today. The update, called Hummingbird, affects about 90 percent of queries and has already been rolled out to users.

“As they have become more comfortable with search, they have started asking many more complex questions of Google,” he said. “And our algorithm had to go through some fundamental rethinking of how we are going to keep our results so relevant, given these complex questions.”

Google is beefing up its search engine to keep its lead in the industry, a position that has helped it become the largest online-advertising company. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company will grab 33 percent of worldwide digital-ad revenue in 2013, up from 32 percent in 2012, according to EMarketer Inc. Facebook Inc. is projected to be No. 2 this year, with 5.4 percent, followed by Yahoo! Inc.’s 3 percent.

Google’s search enhancements were unveiled at a home in Menlo Park, Calif., where co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin worked in the company’s early days. The house was then owned by Susan Wojcicki, a senior vice president, who touted the company’s commitment to cutting-edge technology at the event.

The improvements extend to Knowledge Graph, a tool that lets users easily find more information on specific topics. Searchers may get filters to quickly find more data on a given subject without extra clicks or taps. It will also let users easily compare items, such as nutritional information on butter versus oil.

The company is updating its search application for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, which will soon let users set up notifications, as well as enabling reminders across different devices.

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