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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Google eyes better news searches
Google sign
Google is constantly looking to improve search
Google is planning to improve online news searches.

A patent filed in the US will allow stories to be ranked according to their quality, rather than just by relevance.

The patent would create a system to compare the track record and credibility of different news sources, New Scientist magazine has reported.

The database would weigh up a series of variables, including story length, number of staff employed and amount of traffic to its website.

Issue of subjectivity

Currently Google News will provide thousands of results, based on relevance to the keyword entered.

More recent stories will rank highest.

The system means a news story written by trusted sources such as the BBC or CNN could be outranked by a more obscure publication if the latter is a more current story.

Online searching has become a hotly-contested area on the internet with Google, Ask Jeeves, MSN and Yahoo all competing for hearts and minds.

"Google is constantly thriving for better relevance in its searching and anything that improves the user experience is a good thing," said Julian Smith, an analyst with Jupiter Research.

There could, however, be issues about how the quality of different news sources is decided, as quality is a far more subjective notion than the current parameters of date and relevance, he said.

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