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Google has tweaked its search algorithm to give more up-to-the-minute results for searches, improving the likelihood of more recent news and reviews.

The changes are an extension of last year’s integration of Google’s Caffeine technology, which has been designed to bring more recent results for specific types of searches. The changes announced on Thursday will improve this further, making news searches and details of events more current, Google says.

“Building upon the momentum from Caffeine, today we’re making a significant improvement to our ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness,” blogged Google Fellow Amit Singhal.

For breaking news stories, the search engine will now weigh more heavily the most recent coverage in its results, not just those sites that are the most linked to. For regular events such as annual conferences, the algorithm will display information on the most current event, rather than on those that have now passed.

For more general searches, the results now generated will include more up-to-the-minute information, he wrote. For example, reviews would take the most recent device specifications rather than the most common ones.

Google is facing an increasing threat from Microsoft’s Bing search engine, which is close to providing a third of all internet searches, either directly or via partners such as Yahoo. Google is hoping these latest changes will give it a bit of an edge on Redmond.

That’s not to say however that the Mountain View team isn’t above fooling around a bit. For the latest prank, visit Google's home page with an HTML5-ready browser and search for “do a barrel roll.” ®

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