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40 Google Search Quality Changes for February

This month we have many improvements to celebrate. With 40 changes reported, that marks a new record for our monthly series on search quality. Most of the updates rolled out earlier this month, and a handful are actually rolling out today and tomorrow. We continue to improve many of our systems, including related searches, sitelinks, autocomplete, UI elements, indexing, synonyms, SafeSearch and more. Each individual change is subtle and important, and over time they add up to a radically improved search engine.

Pay attention here because a few of these seem rather important including:

Interval based history tracking for indexing.

Disabling two old fresh query classifiers.

Data refresh for related searches signal.

Consolidation of signals for spiking topics.


Panda update. This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.

Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.

#seo #google #searchquality
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AJ Kohn's profile photoAndre Nader's profile photoMarat Gaziev's profile photoGavin Sutherland's profile photo
13 comments
 
Quite a busy February. Couple of items on that list are sure to make an impact ;)
 
+AJ Kohn Those are some major changes updates

The link evaluation was a no brainer - and pretty much will be the beginning of the end for spam links (comment spamming etc) - and possibly linked to Spam Update too

And as for 'Improvements to freshness' - +Google may as well have that as a permanent banner at the top of the Inside Search blog ;)
AJ Kohn
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The link evaluation one definitely caught my eye. And improvements to freshness and improvements to image search could both be permanent rotating banners on the site +Lee Smallwood!
 
“Site:” query update: "Still random numbers"
AJ Kohn
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+Andre Nader, I was interested in that update too. The number returned is only good for three digits and should really only be used for trending purposes.

What I read into that one was that the ranking of results may have changed. That's important since I know many who use those results to inform a number of topical analysis.
 
+AJ Kohn The link evaluation is quite interesting, the devil is in the details on this one.

"We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page" I'm guessing here they are referring to "anchor text".

"We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years." Almost feels like they are talking about making "anchor text" less of a signal in calculating relevance.
AJ Kohn
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That is the one that caught my eye the most +Marat Gaziev.

I'm not sure it's anchor text or not but it indicates that they've implemented a new way to evaluate links and are confident enough in this new method to sunset the old one.

Whether the new method has already been in place or not is unknown but retiring a method used for 'several years' - along time in our scheme of things - for something as powerful as link evaluation is certainly notable.

Here's the rub:

Most of the updates rolled out earlier this month, and a handful are actually rolling out today and tomorrow.

So the question is whether it's in the former (already rolled out) or the latter (rolling out today and tomorrow.)
 
+AJ Kohn I'm sure they've been testing this new "link signal" for a while, like they do with everything, but to your point this is quite notable.

The last sentence "We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable." Almost makes me think this is a house-keeping project.
 
Improvements to rankings for local search results - be nice to get a handle on exactly what they mean here.
 
+AJ Kohn I believe they rolled out the 'link evaluation' 3 weeks ago. One of my testing sites experienced something strange - The home page is a PR 6 - that remains the same - but the internal pages all dropped from PR5 / PR4 to PR0 over from Friday 3rd Feb. Over the weekend the site fluctuated and it appeared they were implementing / testing and rolling back until by Monday 6th Feb the site settled down to as it stands now homepage PR6 cc +Marat Gaziev
 
With regard to my previous coment, I think reading between the lines that perhaps factors such as citations are being given less weight in order to provide greater and arguably fairer exposure to sites in local listing packs who also perform well in "normal" local results. The changes to the anchor text Algiers should also help sort the wheat from the chaff in this respect.
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