In the quest to provide the best search engine possible, Google announced this week an upgrade to the company's search algorithms as well as the expansion of the Knowledge Graph, a database of more than 500 million real-world people, places and things with 3.5 billion attributes and connections among them. Starting next week, Google will begin taking into account a new signal in their rankings, adding to the list of more than 200 signals the search engine uses to deliver accurate results--the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site.
In a company blog post, Google's senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, wrote that sites with high numbers of removal notices might appear lower in search results, and said the ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily. "Since we re-booted our copyright removals over two years ago, we've been given much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online," he wrote. "In fact, we're now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009-more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone. We will now be using this data as a signal in our search rankings."
Singhal also noted that Google cannot determine whether a particular Web page does or does not violate copyright law, as only copyright holders know if something is authorized, and only courts can decide if a copyright has been infringed. Therefore, Google will not remove any pages from the results of the search query unless they receive a valid copyright removal order from the affected party. "We'll continue to provide "counter-notice" tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated," he wrote. "We'll also continue to be transparent about copyright removals."
In addition to the copyright signal, Google's expansion of the Knowledge Graph brings results to every English-speaking country in the world. The intelligence gathering in the database is processed to help users find the right result more quickly when your search may have different meanings, and is able to produce hundreds of thousands of lists involving millions of items. Google is also offering a limited trial where Google will also search through your emails as well as the Web to find information that may be of interest or relevant to the search.
The company also combined their speech recognition expertise, understanding of language and the Knowledge Graph to improve the Voice Search application, which Singhal said could better interpret questions and sometimes speak the answers back as full sentences. "These are baby steps, but important ones on our way to building the search engine of the future-one that is much more intelligent and useful than it was just a few years ago," Singhal's blog post detailing the changes concluded. It's a very exciting time to be working in this field."