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Over the past few days, you might have noticed that Google.com looks slightly different when searching for news. Google’s “Top stories” carousel on the desktop website has been revamped with a new grid-based organization structure.

Instead of “Top stories” being shown as a list or carousel, Google now makes use of a grid. On more minor stories, you get a 2×2 layout, while more important topics get larger cards, images, and headlines.

The international news example below shows a total of seven stories with a short summary at the top. Meanwhile, tech examples of feature/update rollouts are limited to the four-article grid.

Google says it will “organize results by story so it’s easier to understand what’s most relevant” when there are “multiple stories related to your search.” This was first introduced to mobile Search in 2019 and is now coming to desktop users around the world. 

To generate these groups, we use a variety of machine learning techniques including BERT models to examine the related articles and determine where one story ends and another begins. Our research has shown that clustering results into clearly-defined stories is critical in helping people easily navigate the results and identify the best content for their needs.

It’s similar to how Google News displays stories, and it helps visually distinguish Top stories from the regular list of 10 blue links.  

For example, if you search for “NASA news,” you might see results grouped under the distinct news stories “NASA adds five companies to moon bid” and “NASA detects water vapor on Jupiter’s moon Europa,” along with additional results under “Also in the news.”

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com