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Google Acquires Orion Search Algorithm

Google Acquires Orion Search Algorithm

"This is part of Google's ongoing attempt to maintain the best relevance algorithm. The search industry is incredibly competitive. Google's decision to buy this algorithm could be as much to take it away from its competitors as it is to help Google," Greg Sterling, principal analyst with Sterling Market Intelligence, told the E-Commerce Times.

By Jennifer LeClaire E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
04/10/06 9:57 AM PT

Google has gobbled up yet another technology -- this time from a computer science student Down Under.

Google bought a new search algorithm created by Ori Allon, a 26-year-old Israeli Ph.D. student from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia. Allon patented a new way of exploring the Web that he believes could revolutionize existing search engines.

"This is part of Google's ongoing attempt to maintain the best relevance algorithm. The search industry is incredibly competitive. Google's decision to buy this algorithm could be as much to take it away from its competitors as it is to help Google," Greg Sterling, principal analyst with Sterling Market Intelligence, told the E-Commerce Times.

Complimenting Google

Dubbed Orion, the algorithm recommends the most relevant keywords with which to conduct a search. The English-only algorithm rates the text by quality of the site it appears in. Currently there is no public demo available.

The Orion search engine was initially designed to complement searches conducted on services such as Google, Yahoo or MSN Search. In fact, Microsoft and Yahoo were also reportedly in the running for a bid at securing the next-generation method for prioritizing relevance in text searches.

Orion finds pages where the content pertains to a topic strongly related to the keyword. It then returns a section of the page and lists other topics related to the keyword so the user can pick the most relevant.

Sparking Search

"The results to the query are displayed immediately in the form of expanded text extracts, giving you the relevant information without having to go to the Web site -- although you still have that option if you wish," said Allon. "By displaying results to other associated key words directly related to your search topic, [the system lets] you gain additional pertinent information that you might not have originally conceived, thus offering an expert search without having an expert's knowledge."

Allon offers a search on the "American Revolution" as an example of how the system works. Orion would bring up results with extracts containing this phrase, but it would also give results for American History, George Washington, American Revolutionary War, Declaration of Independence, Boston Tea Party and more.

"Bill Gates was recently quoted in Forbes magazine as saying that we need to take the search way beyond how people think of it today. We believe that Orion will do that," said Andrew Stead of New South Innovations, the technology transfer company within UNSW.

The Race for Relevance

Search engines are playing the cat-and-mouse game of search engine optimization, analysts said. The leading players are all vying to stay one step ahead in the relevance race, making sure that organic searches are increasingly useful.

"The secret sauce behind Google's success to date has been that its results are simply more relevant," Sterling said. "Arguably, what's at stake in this is that the better the organic search results, the better the engine will be able to retain and grow the user base. That translates directly to revenues."


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