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Google updates Search with new algorithm to fix misleading results

Google updates Search with new algorithm to fix misleading results
11 Aug, 2022
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Google has announced a new update that will attempt to make its featured snippets more accurate. Announced earlier today via a blog post by Google's vice-president of Search, Pandu Nayak, the update to the featured snippets will include the company's artificial intelligence algorithm, called the Multitask Unified Model (MUM), which will look to understand two key things -- consensus and context -- before showing a particular webpage or information within its featured snippets.

With the new technique, a Google Search result will look to read into what multiple websites, which the search engine already flags as "high-quality" sources of information, have to say about a topic. Nayak said that Search can now cross-check these high-quality information sites even if the way a piece of information described on it is different in terms of their wording, or even the context in which the information is written.

This is important, since featured snippets appear at the very top of search results. However, Nayak admitted that these snippets do not always have the most accurate results -- and can get confused in terms of the context of a search result. This could lead to the search engine offering false information within its results, hence leading up to this development.

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Adding context to why this could be important, Nayak wrote that the featured snippets results are key for "both people searching on Google, and web publishers -- as featured snippets drive traffic to websites."

"AI models are also helping our systems understand when a featured snippet might not be the most helpful way to present information. This is particularly helpful for questions where there is no answer: for example, a recent search for 'when did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln' provided a snippet highlighting an accurate date and information about Lincoln’s assassination, but this clearly isn’t the most helpful way to display this result," Nayak further added.

Finally, Google is also adding context to its 'about this result' section, which can be seen for any indexed webpage for a particular search. The section will now host more information about the publisher, its circulation and ownership. "About this result" will also be available more widely across new languages and also on the Google app on phones.

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Google also said that its search results will now add a new disclaimer for searches where the information is inadequate -- such as when a piece of breaking news is being updated. Google would previously return older, indexed results for such topics, which would be inaccurate. Now, a prompt will inform readers that the topic is being updated, when searched for.