Q&A with Krishna Bharat of Google News
Google News is one of the largest and most up-to-date news services online, gathering content from more than 4,500 online news sources around the world, then determining which stories are related and grouping them based on importance.
While the creation of the original articles and their publication online requires thousands of journalists, editors and other news professionals, the organization and display of stories on Google News is managed entirely by computer programs.
Google News launched in September 2002 on www.google.com. Recently, localized version of Google News were created for international markets, including Germany, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and India. The new beta versions of Google News for these countries are available on their respective Google country domains. Other versions are in the works and should be available in the months ahead.
Krishna Bharat, the Google Principal Scientist who conceived the idea for Google News, took a moment recently to answer questions submitted by readers of the Google Friends newsletter.
Google Principal Scientist
Q: How did you come up with the idea of aggregating news separately from the regular search?
A: Following September 11, I realized it would be useful to see news reporting from multiple sources on a given topic assembled in one place. The process of reading one newspaper after another and selecting related stories seemed to be something that could be best accomplished through automation, so we built the news specific crawling and clustering system that subsequently became Google News. Now readers simply select a story and see what news organizations worldwide have to say about it. This reorganization of available information is very consistent with Google's larger goal of making the world's information more easily accessible and useful.
Q: When will Google News be available in languages other than English?
A: We are working to make Google News available in more languages in addition to adding more features as Google News evolves. Google News is now available in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada, and the UK. Each version favors news about that country, so readers get information that's most relevant to them, based on where they live.
Q: How does Google News automatically match relevant images from news websites with major headlines?
A: The Google web crawling software looks for relevant images on the web pages where the news headline was found. Then it looks for characteristics both of the image and of the surrounding text that distinguish a useful image from a not-so-useful one.
Q: Which news sources are used by Google News and how do you choose them?
A: Google News currently draws from more than 4,500 English-language news sources worldwide. We try to be as comprehensive as possible and use a mix of techniques to find sources to ensure that multiple perspectives are available on any given news story.
Q: Are all news sources treated the same, or are some given higher priority based on PageRank or other criteria? If so, what are the criteria?
A: As with Google WebSearch, Google News employs many different metrics for determining the relative importance of web pages. PageRank is one of these factors, but the exact mix of determinants is part of our secret sauce and not something we're able to discuss in detail. We can say that Google News also integrates other attributes, such as the recency of the content, to help determine which stories get the most prominence.
Q: According to the Google News website, "information [is] automatically arranged to present the most relevant news first." How is relevance determined?
A: As with Google's web ranking, relevance is determined by information retrieval techniques that look at the distribution of words in the article and surrounding pages on the web. If the article matches the query well it is deemed relevant and gets a high score. Other factors include the importance of the source, timeliness of the article, and importance of the news story, relative to other stories in the news currently.
Q: Will Google News be added as a button on future versions of the Google Toolbar?
A: Google News is currently accessible on all versions of the Google Toolbar. If you don't see it, click the box next to "News button" in the Options menu to make it visible.
An eye-opening Google AdWords account
More than 100,000 companies use Google's advertising program Google AdWords, selecting keywords to target their ads to people searching for everything from discount travel to rare antiques.
Online advertiser Postoptics has achieved remarkable business growth using Google AdWords, today claiming about 80 percent of the mail-order and online contact lens business in the UK. According to owner Trevor Rowley, "the goal of online ads should not be about the amount of traffic they create, but about knowing who is buying, and the amount of each sale."
"Google gives us 35 percent of our traffic and 58 percent of our orders," Rowley says. "It's so cost-effective to pay per click for Google customers, because we know the quality of leads is very high."
To learn more about how Google AdWords can help your business, visit:
Congratulations to the 2003 U.S. Puzzle Team! These four individuals were the leading scorers in the Google U.S. Puzzle Championship, held May 31st, and will be competing in the 12th World Puzzle Championship this fall in the Netherlands.
Good luck to all of you!
- Roger Barkan, 23, is a mathematician working for the Department of Defense. Roger resides in Laurel, MD and was a member of the U.S.A. Puzzle Team in 2001 and 2002.
- Todd Geldon, 25, is a graduate student at the University of Texas. He is currently studying mathematics and living in Austin, Texas.
- Mike Miller, 33, is a mechanical engineer from Pensacola, Fla.
- Wei-Hwa Huang, 27, is a software engineer living in Mountain View, Calif. He works for a popular search engine company (and we're very proud of his accomplishment). He has been a member of the U.S Puzzle Team since 1993 and is a four-time world champion at the World Puzzle Championship.
For a complete list of the Google U.S. Championship results and a look at the actual test questions, visit the U.S. Puzzle Team site.
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