Featured snippets are surely one of the most useful features that Google added to its search engine in recent years. Today, the company announced that it has recently updated the algorithm that powers these snippets to prioritize more recent information.
In Google’s example, the search engine would previously regularly feature outdated data because it didn’t fully understand what a user was actually looking for. Understanding the actual intent of a search query is hard, after all.
“At the core of Search is language understanding, and our systems don’t understand language the same way humans do,” writes Pandu Nayak, Google’s VP for Search. “This is why we’re constantly developing new ways to better understand your searches and provide relevant results, especially in cases where there is useful context that is implied, like whether freshness matters.”
In Google’s examples, that means a search for “upcoming school holidays” will now highlight the 2019/2020 holidays, not the 2018/2019 ones.
Similarly, when you look for information about upcoming events, this new algorithm will try to give you fresher and hence more accurate information. The example Google gives here is the premiere of Stranger Things 3. If you were looking for that before the update and before the lackluster third season hit Netflix, the algorithm would’ve highlighted an older post from 2018 with an unspecific date. After the update, it would’ve given you the exact date as soon as possible.