Content Marketing Blog

How 9/11 changed Google search

The terrible events of 9/11 changed the world forever.

When terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre in New York, it was a terrible tragedy, a huge geo-political shock and a breaking news story that reverberated around the globe.

It was also the event that convinced Google that it needed to change its search and serve up fresher results.

"When September 11th happened, we at Google were failing our users," admitted Google fellow Armit Singhal in a video posted on Google's official blog this week.

"Our users were searching for 'New York Twin Towers' and our results had nothing relevant, nothing related to the sad events of the day."

Back then, Google's crawlers had been out indexing web pages a month earlier and were therefore showing old results, prompting the search giant to manually post links to the websites of leading news providers.

The longer-term solution was Google News, an aggregation service that pulled breaking stories from bona fide news providers and then put links to those stories in one place for users to access.

Singhal explained that he and one of his colleagues came up with the idea as a direct result of Google's failure to provide just-crawled results on 9/11.

Over the past 10 years, Google News has dramatically expanded its reach, taking in a broader range of original content publishers from niche news sites to industry blogs.

Just recently, the company made some changes intended to encourage users to start their news search on the Google News homepage, rather than by hopping straight to the news results for searches they'd already run.

While the early vision may have been a simple news aggregator, Google News is starting to feel more like a news portal or even a publication in its own right.