Google improves search for fresh documents

Here’s a power-searcher tip that didn’t get much attention the first time around, so I wanted to mention it. Tara Calashain recently wrote about changes to Google’s date search features.

Previously, I believe Google estimated the age of a url as the last time that we fetched that page. Given how quickly Google refreshes its main index, that didn’t mean quite as much recently. Now for date-based search, Google estimates url ages by the first date that we saw a url.

Here’s an example. A normal search for [Google] looks like this:

Normal Google search

If you restrict the results to the last three months, the same search for Google gives more recent urls:

Recent Google search

Those results are all things that launched in the last three months. And if I try it with something like [toronto] and I see recent discussion of SES Toronto instead of older urls.

Just a handy search tip for power users. Thanks to the Googlers who improved date-based search. 🙂

37 Responses to Google improves search for fresh documents (Leave a comment)

  1. This is quite a useful resource, Google REALLY should have promoted the DateRange command and made it much easier to use.

    It is an important feature that just is not pushed that well, and using Julian time was just not that intuitive for most people who want to use search parameters.

    This date range option should be defaulted on the homepage with monthly search range options, and there should be one option for brand new pages and a second option for newly CHANGED webpages

    Many users would find this important for browsing newly updated sites as well as new sites

  2. [quote]This date range option should be defaulted on the homepage with monthly search range options, and there should be one option for brand new pages and a second option for newly CHANGED webpages[/quote]

    Hear hear – I run an events site for a particular type of event (fireworks displays – this is my peak season!) in my state, and over and over I’m running into instances where searches for “cityname fireworks” will display an or some other list of 2006 event at the top, with my nice current 2007 page following. Even when you add 2007 to the search string! (In most cases I come up first, but a few key city names show this phenomenon) I suppose it’s *possible* that people are looking for information about fireworks events from 2006 in my state… but I kinda doubt it.

  3. there should be one option for brand new pages and a second option for newly CHANGED webpages

    I am with SEW on that one. It should be optional which way you want to search it. Also, if you guys are not going to change it, then maybe you should change the language on the Advanced Search page, since now the option of “Return web pages updated in the ” doesn’t do what the text says it does, and most searchers have no idea who Matt Cutts is, let alone read his blog (as good as it is) for the latest updates on how Google works. 🙂


  4. SearcH EnginesWEB and Netmeg, I don’t think we surfaced the daterange search much in the past because it wasn’t as useful as it could be. This is a good step in the right direction though. Before, that drop-down box just wasn’t helpful, in my opinion.

    Michael VanDeMar, good point. I believe that is on the to-do list, but we wanted people to be able to use the improved date search while all the wording/translation got settled.

  5. Cool! It’d be even neater if Google eventually got around to showing stuff from just today, ala technorati.

    Even cooler would be the ability to make my search query case sensitive, or regular expressiony.

  6. Oh! I have it! Ok, Matt, this idea is a freebie, pass it on. 🙂

    In the same way that you guys detect whether or not to show the links to News or Video, etc, depending on what is searched on, you could detect queries that have some borderline “freshness” factors, like was discussed in the NYTimes article. If it’s not enough of a factor to actually modify what is returned, you could display a “View results updated in the past 2 weeks”, or whatever. The whole old results thing is a huge turnoff for many people, and most don’t even know what advanced search does. That could be a great intermediary fix for it.

    Just a suggestion. 🙂


  7. >>Ryan Said,
    >>June 18, 2007 @ 10:26 am

    >>Cool! It’d be even neater if Google eventually got around to showing stuff from just >>today, ala technorati.

  8. Thanks Jeremey..Iknew about that, but I didn’t want to just search blogs. I’d be interested in searching across all sites for the most recent updates of stuff…

    Like today when some “deals” sites all linked to one of my websites and brought it down. It’d have been cool to search for my domain and see it, rather than wait for the server to restart and find the logs to see who mentioned me.

    The blog search is certainly very useful though..

  9. Yea this is nice and useful

    Not that you can tell us too much about the algo.. but it appears that regular searches are also factoring in time better than they used to. This is highly subjective and anecdotal, but…. There must be some tasty math going into the balance between longevity and freshness.

    When you get a chance I’d love to see more posts with a peek into the inner-workings, you know, for all the junkies who just thing the technology is cool.

  10. A good idea, but potentially very dangerous.

    What would stop anyone from creating “automatically generated” content daily as the result of a CRON job or a Windows Task Scheduler job (depending on your choice of server) to try and rank for “recent searches”? And more importantly, are there steps in place to detect and remove the offending sites?

    I’m not trying to imply that Google did something wrong here…I’m just saying that idiots will look to abuse this feature eventually, that’s all.

  11. All I can say is this is going to rock for people who keeps pumping out new pages. Even for super-competitive terms, new pages now have a shot since the authority pages that rank #1 for those terms might disappear off the front page with a “past 3 months” filter.

    But then again, well-linked-to sites with lots of trusted, high value IBLs have a better chance of getting a new page to stick in the main index than a new website that gets all their new pages swallowed up by the supplemental index.

    That makes me wonder, will supplemental pages show up with those filters active even if they target highly competitive terms? Or will they only show up for long tails?

  12. Why not let us enter our own date range, like we can with Google news search or Google blog search? Give us the power to use Google to its full potential. 🙂

  13. This will most definitely rock for those who do a lot of pages.

    Carmelo Lisciotto

  14. Dave (original)

    That’s a cool tip, thanks!

  15. I can see this being extremely useful for co-op searches.

  16. Great news! This is really big for dedicated fresh enterers in their industry.

  17. I don’t think google’s new search technique which displays results based on age of document works as it should.

    It displays results not based on age of the URL but age of the domain.

  18. I like this idea, I use it when searching on Google News – sort by ‘date’.

    With websites being updated on such a regular basis this makes perfect sense.

    As long as it was only an option – sort by ‘date’ or ‘relevance’

  19. Hi Matt,

    Very useful update to find the latest infos 🙂

  20. It is a useful feature and Google is by far my favorite search engine.

    However, with all the changes it is getting harder and harder for small sites with limited budgets to be able to optimize their sites and therefore stay in business.

  21. That’s great! Had no idea that feature was there. It really should be on the main Google page by default.

  22. Matt,

    This is really cool…


  23. Finally, Google fixed the date-based search bug after several years and critical articles and posts about the problem. The previous estimation was not giving any meaningful results as stated clearly above by Matt Cutts! Better late than never!

  24. Matt,
    thanks for the update.. I just tried to search something I want then found that the blog post appeared on the top is on last 2 weeks.. very fresh content..

  25. >#Multi-Worded Adam Said,
    >June 18, 2007 @ 2:31 pm
    >I’m not trying to imply that Google did something wrong here…I’m just >saying that idiots will look to abuse this feature eventually, that’s all.

    There will always be idiots out to game the system and spam it etc… spammers are always trying to find ways around things and search engines will always be making their offerings better and less spammy.. its a cycle… better its a forward moving cycle than a stagnant one that doesnt change because of future spam implications.

    I think this is a good thing, great for the users and also good for businesses, it will encourage them even more to produce quality up to date content on their sites.

  26. It is already in the “Advanced Search” but I rarely think of using it when I could have becuase it simply does not work and the results are not all that hot.

  27. Amen to that, Dyce. There always will be idiots, and no one will ever stop them. I just don’t like the idea of a potential open door.

  28. Matt,

    Does that mean that new pages in new sites also get better chances in this type of search? 🙂

    I guess not, since the spammers would have a wonderful time there.

  29. Hi Matt, that’s another factor for Google to rank sites. Where do I find this option?

  30. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for this.

    I use search a lot throughout my day and it is terrific to have Google trying to work it all out for us (someone needs to), however, I’m intrigued in the results page when using date search.

    For instance:

    Today, searching for “Barbara Coll” without specifying a date range results in this:

    Searching for the same name, specifying the past three months gives me this: (Which, of course, is way more relevant).

    However, I am a little confused about the order, given:

    – My post, tagged BC went in June 10, BC’s June 14
    – My blog is much younger than WebMama’s
    – BC blogs using Blogger, I use WordPress

    Although I’ve been using search engines forever, I’ve only recently begun trying to understand SEO, so I hope you forgive stupid questions. 🙂

    Why does my tag and post come up before hers? I would have expected it the other way around.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that my results are there, also LOVE the ability to search by date (long standing whine of mine) – just a little confused in how it all fits together and why.

    I would love your thoughts.

  31. Matt, is it possible to eplain the effect of sitelinks. (sublinks under a search result)

    I know it is done completely automatic, but is there a way to code the website so it get’s that effect (or make the chance more likely)


  32. Matt, This is a great feature.

    It would be nice if Google displayed not only the “past 3 months”, “past 6 months”, and “past year” but a time value. This would be very valueable to webmaster to know where their site has been shown in the past week, day, etc.

    Does this feature exist?

    I tried to change it manually and got a “The date restriction was dropped from your search because it is not supported for this type of search. ”


  33. This is a very useful feature. Thank you!

  34. Forgive my stupidity. Why am I not seeing that option?

  35. To my mind it’s a good feature because the main part of users would like not to read old articles but to find more fresh and that’s why useful information. For example blog search by Google. All newest information in any sphere. Nice upgrade, bloggers would like it.

  36. I have seen evidence of that for my site as well…I created pages, and within 3 days, they are in the top 10. 🙂

  37. Intermediate_Searcher

    Not sure if this blog is still being monitored, but with fingers crossed, I’ll give a comment a shot!

    I’d like to see (or know how, if already available) this feature made available to use directly from the search bar, such as other advanced operators are: site: inrul: link:

    Having this available from the search bar is MUCH faster than going to advanced page and clicking several times to get the mod. I want for my search terms. TRES inconvenient!