Osama bin Laden's Death Tracked on Google News

Google News, which sprang into existence after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, served as a hotbed for thousands of news articles on the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Google News served as a landing place for more than 150,000 articles in the five days since U.S. President Barack Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Google Maps users marked the location of the compound in Abbottabad where bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals after a brief firefight.

Google listed 100 links about the news and linked out to a massive list of content concerning bin Laden's death culled from 80,000 different sources from May 1 to May 5.

The fresh content was automatically indexed online, something that wasn't possible before Sept. 11, 2001, when bin Laden-led terrorists hijacked U.S. passenger planes and guided them like missiles into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2011.

Within seconds of the jet plane crashes, Google and news sites all over the Web blew up with queries by people searching for the most up-to-date news.

Unfortunately, Google, Yahoo and other Websites could not adequately display links to the freshest and most relevant news, explained Krishna Bharat, founder and head of Google News in a blog post.

Google's ranking depended on links from other authors on the Web. Fresh news was too fresh to accumulate such links, prompting Bharat to craft a new ranking signal for Google's then nascent search engine.

Bharat created Google News using "Storyrank," which helped the search engine calculate how many news sources were covering the underlying story to understand how important the story was.

The algorithm displays news stories automatically to provide readers with the freshest content. Now 1 out of 6 Web searches on Google includes a set of news results, thanks largely to Storyrank.

Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan criticized Bharat's blog post for failing to offer metrics for most read, shared, topics most covered.

Still, he ultimately acknowledged the value of news aggregation services and how much they can improve. Google's Bharat, for one, appreciates the lesson in world connectedness he learned after 9/11, which precipitated Google News.

"One of the many lessons I learned from 9/11 is that the world is highly connected," Bharat said. "We live in a global society crisscrossed by virtual and physical dependencies, where knowledge is power and ignorance has consequences."

Google News now has more than 70 editions in more than 30 languages, and sends more than 1 billion clicks a month to news publishers worldwide.