November 15, 2006
Google Planning "Universal Search;" Using Latte as Test
If you perform a Google search for a news event, you're not likely to get the answers you expect. For example, this blog's April Fools Day post is still in the top three responses for the search "Rumsfeld resigns," despite extensive news coverage of the real story. While I would prefer that the 6,000+ recent Latte visits were intentional, I know that I'm just the beneficiary of bad search results. Google doesn't update its index of the Web often enough to keep up with breaking stories—the Web is too big and changes too fast. And the way Google ranks results for regular searches isn't always appropriate for news stories.
Google does have a news search that is better suited to this kind of query. For example a Google News search for "Rumsfeld resigns" returns 432 links to relevant articles, many of them from November 8th, the day the Secretary's resignation was announced. But many people don't bother to use Google News, and thus they end up on sites that aren't necessarily relevant.
The engineers at Google are clearly aware of this issue, and they are working on improvements. Indeed, they seem to be using the "Rumsfeld resigns" query for tests of their new system. At least that's what one can infer from certain incoming links to Latte from www.corp.google.com, notably "http://www.corp.google.com/~username/universalsearch/ modes_v1/usability/rumsfeld.htm." (My blog software, Typepad, shows me a daily log of the traffic to Latte.)
Though it may look like gibberish, the URL above is actually quite revealing. It suggests that Google is performing internal usability tests on an upgrade called "Universal Search." And it's enough information that I'm willing to speculate that one day soon, Google News results will be integrated into the main Google results. And on the sad day when this capability is released to the public, traffic to Latte will drop back down to normal.
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