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Google algorithm changes that greatly refine search

Since the beginning of 2012, there's been word around about a rigorous follow-up to the Fresh update. Not just in terms of an overall algorithm spin, but also in terms of regular and more intense changes to the search filter.

This led Google to start their monthly series of revisions back in November 2011, revealing improvements to search quality.

At the end of February, they announced a huge list of minor updates, which combined managed to shake apart rankings(especially for blogs and social content websites).

As you gear up for the next big update, it'd be worth keeping these in mind and optimising your websites to remain on top and keep your client's businesses getting their continued traffic.

So I wanted to take a bit of time and look at Google's algorithm changes and the implications they'll have for you...

# 1 : Snippets and Video

The SERPs generally provide direct links to pages and channels with video content if they relate well to the keyphrase. These results are in the form of snippets that rank high.

The latest change will enhance the generation of the snippets to index as well as increase the quality and coverage of the snippet.

# 2 : Local Search Results Revision

If you have a website ranking well wordwide and in places that are far from your geographic location, then it's importance in local search will spike up.

This means you can no longer focus on just optimizing yourself for your local areas or your local clients for just their cities or states. If the overall ranking in far away locations goes and dropping, that send s a signal that parts of the site are being ignored or carry low relevance, which could negatively impact your performance in local search.

# 3 : Better Spelling Scoring
The search engine has a scoring function/method used to check the spelled keywords for related searches and corrections (if any). This did not do any good for searches that were rare.

You hardly got any "Did you mean:" suggestions and even ended up with inaccurate results for uncommon searches.

Now, for the english language search phrases, spell scoring has been revised which means better correction.

So where you thought about targeting typographical errors (eg: Google uses the "" domain itself) for keywords, now it's likely to backfire and give less traffic.

# 4 : News snippets bug fix

Earlier, some news results that were useful and relevant to the query were not being displayed due to algorithm filtering problems. This was bad for news and PR releases.

The bug has been fixed. News Universal results are now expected to flash high if found relevant.

# 5 : Signal Consolidation

This one is "extremely important".

Go ahead and do a search in G+ after logging in, for a bunch of keywords that you may have been testing for some time.

This change will supercharge the Fresh update. While earlier, google was keeping a regularly refreshed repository of signals to monitor popular topics and, they're filtering their repository and extracting a second set of signals which are changing real time.

This second list of search signals is likely to be more dependable that all the rest of the repository combined. It's like finding the needle from a heap of grass and hay.

These are small in number, easy to manage and even easier to monitor in 'real time'. So yes, if a discussion or page is too popular, result fluctuations could be coming from each addition or who knows, maybe even a single new comment made to the page!

# 6 : Weather Update (Turkish only)

If you're a user in turkey, you'll be able to see weather forecasts with more accuracy right on the results page.

# 7 : Design Page for settings

Since search is being better personalised everyday, your google accounts dashboard has changed to improve that personalisation, incase you've noticed.

# 8 : A more sensitive Panda

The Panda update shook up the results last time. Well, it's back for round 2!!

The results indexed by the panda have been refreshed making them more accurate, sensitive and reliable wrt recent developments and changes in different niches online.

# 9 : Relaxations in link value judgements

Google always uses the different features and characteristics of links pointing to you to evaluate your site's worth.

They've stepped down some measures of characteristics to keep their link analysis maintainable and less complicated.

# 10 : Result Censoring

This is an improvement to their Safe Search feature. Looks like Matt Cuts is finally getting closer to his goal. Any irrelevant adult content flashing up in search results due to havy and improper optimization is going out.

So those websites and youtube videos that are tagged with adult keywords but link to affiliate software instead are going to get beat!

# 11 : Less Spam

Any websites overloaded with keywords or leading to spy applications are getting screened out of the index. this is a slow and gradual process.

But as more and more searches are done everyday, all those results that were taking advantage of keyword stuffing are going to get banned out of the results staedily, instead of just losing their rankings.

# 12 : More quality in local search results

The effect of worldwide results on local search is notable. But to keep those pages and documents safe, which are "truly local" to a user and carry little cross-territory significance, the rankings will see a boost.

# 13 : Increased sphere of History

Web history is used to give you more relevant results, by matching up phrases you searched recently, what results to you may have marked out and what your preferences for web pages were.

This feature of maintaining a search web history is now being given in 20 more countries. So there's good news for businesses in these regions:

Philippines, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Tunisia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Iraq, Estonia, Luxembourg, Jamaica, Moldova, Ghana, Azerbaijan, Trinidad-Tobago, Morocco, Pakistan, Belarus and Malaysia.

# 14 : Enhanced "Freshness"

The Fresh update will be able to sniff fresh content on the fly - even more quickly than what it was at the launch of G+.

# 15 : An improved Input Method Editor (Korean)

For Korean searchers who entered wrong keywords or close deviations from what they wanted, this editor will detect spelling errors and give better suggestions.

The editor is directed to benefit those who search for Hangul queries in the Latin mode.

# 16 : Worldwide Rich Snippets (Shopping)

This is another one for the "extremely important" category. Earlier only
the United States, Japan and Germany were able to benefit from rich snippets in their product searches, but now the entire world can view product ratings, availability, prices and review counts with a single glance at the search results.

Better for serious business owners and eCommerce stores that wish to rank well. This is also great for consumers with time-constratints.

More details can be found here:

# 17 : Related Search Signals Refined

When users search for a couple of terms immediately after a particulat keyword/keyphrase..and do this frequently, it means there's a connection between these 2 consecutive terms.

That's where related search suggestions at the bottom of the results are displayed for your convenience. Detecting these forms a very important and powerful part of the the Google search engine.

The queries kept track of for building the related searches have been given a through refresh and the model that figues them out has been refined.

For the SEO professional, this means that even a little remote optimisation, though it won't get you on page one, it will tell you whether or not the changes you are making are working in the right direction if your site pops-up for related searches and the consumer finds an indirect way to you.

# 18 : Travel Search Sharpened

Of all the google algorithm changes and the implications they brig, this one is valuable for the travel and tourism sector in all regions, especially for flight reservations and business.

A huge variety of search queries with relevance to flight details have been triggered in the new update to give users more targeted flight related results.

More details can be found here:

# 19 : Removal of soft error pages

These are error pages that contain no useful data but just return a message to the browser declaring that nothing was found in the page. This creates a problem that is two fold for the search engine:

> The page despite being of low or no relevance is not a confirmed error until the user looks at it and discards it, as sometimes they are notoriously used by blackhats

> Being a soft error, the page occupies space in the index until rooted out. A huge number of these pages degrade search performance and consume unnecessary cache

The latest update examines these pages carefully befor indexing them. Detection has been extended to three new languages as well for better filtering - italian, dutch and portuguese.

# 20 : Google Bar Updated

The interface for google products is being made more user friendly, beautified and intuitive for the searcher.

Google's replaced the menu drop down in the November redesign, with a
better, expanded set of links running across the top of the page. These are more consistent and aid the searcher.

Design changes are generally mentioned and explained by google here:

# 21 : Quicker Image tracking

Images will now be indexed very fast. They are an excellent social signal as well as a sign of media activity.

So if you haven't yet set up a Pinterest profile for your business, do it immediately to boost your eforts at social SEO.

# 22 : Refined Korean Search

Search results in Korea will be better classified into blogs, website and business home pages as well as separate results for news posts.

Marketers in Korea to benefit, but will have to simplify their linking structures.

# 23 : Revision of Signal Age classfiers

Newer search signals have newer age timelines and value to the searcher as well as relevance to his query.

The update decommissions two old classifying modules the told old and new signals apart. New methods have been put in place to judge signal freshness.

For SEO purposes, you would have to experiment for a couple weeks until you're certain about which signals are most impactful. Try experimenting with a bogus domain on a free server to find out and "record" your findings.

# 24 : Synonyms extended to foreign languages

While earlier, only queries in the english language could return results with synonyms, the ability to return better results using synonyms has been extended to foreign languages as well.

You can now target synonymous keywords if your market is already too competitive.

# 25 : History tracking to now have intervals

This is an improvement towards tracking of documents and consolidated data formats for the spider. The signals read will change significantly. So a deep search can cause document URLs to be pre-exposed before a launch.

Best to guard the the document and give no signal if it's part of a marketing funnel. Else, give out full signal, optimise document and let it be indexed for positive boost in rankings.

# 26 : Better adult filter for images

Adult content in images will be thoroughly scanned for content signals and image relevance. Based on the same principle as the other changes for a safe search.

So steer clear of any tactics involving images and <alt> tags that have adult content not relevant to your market.

# 27 : Enhancement of "Site" opertaor

The site: query results have been diversified to improve the ranking of businesses with wise and maybe a little deviant(but relevant) domain names.

So if you wanted a domain for "xcvbhg" but all the possible ones were gone, having a valuable position in your sitemap keep that value "xcvbhg" as part of the URL or even a close variation thereof, would benefit you in the long run. Be wiser with your domains now. Google gives you your opportunity to rank well.

# 28 : Search query autocompletion gets stricter

Auto complete suggestions and direct hit queries will now be implemented if backed by a strong volume of searches and a positive engagement of users with the content coming from those keywords.

There will be a minor change, but it will definitely make it difficult for offensive words to appear as auto complete suggestions.

Policies for auto complete can be found here:

# 29 : A bigger index for images

If you have images on your blog, you're going to benefit. like video results, images too are going to get importance. The index size for accomodating images is expanding and the return for queries with relevant images in the index will get your blog ranked better and quicker.

# 30 : Country info per URL to be current

Google is refreshing it's directory of URLs based on information about the country from where the page comes. Additionally, since the data has been freshly classified and is recent, the results will be easier to access, update and will return more recent results.
.us, .uk,.au..... and other such domains are likely to fetch you better country wise results.

# 31 : Sharper detection of official representations

Any business' official page that wasn't indexed earlier will be better tracked now and will appear higher in the listings at it's deserved place.

Any fake or fanmade pages are likely to suffer unless they have huge user engagement.

# 32 : Youtube searches become location specific

Another one to put on your "priority list". Most google algorithm changes and the implications are focused on freshness and user demographics. This one includes is those plus relevance in video sharing.

If you're in different parts of the world and enter a particular keyword the same way in both places, you'll get different video suggestions.


Type in "commonwealth youtube" in the UK and in Australia. For the UK, it returns The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained Whereas for Australia, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is the top video result.

# 33 : Thumbnail sizes revised

The results page will have tumbnails appearing in better and more consistent sizes.

This will benefit any rich snippets for shopping, news, books, applications, movie posters and images, recipes etc.

It will present better viewability, more thumbnails tracked and better compatibility with tablets and mobile media.

# 34 : Expanded Site-links refined.

Snippets refering to expanded site-links will be based less on the query entered and more on on-site and on-page content. This has been done to lower duplication.

Relevant details on this change can be found here:

# 35 : Irrelevant Categoriser removed from expanded site-links

While there has been a shift towards on-page content, the earlier used categoriser that crawled and indexed these site-links wasn't working well. To make search results more relevant, this categoriser has been decommissioned.

# 36 : Search refining with related searches

There is now more coverage with regard to "related" search terms and there's a possibility that you will see more queries in the suggestions. A new data source is being implemented to analyze existing searches and point out more valid suggestions.

For the wise optimiser, a keen eye on the related search terms and changes thereof will do 2 things:

> Tell you what your market is not competing for but is likely to bet on in the future

> Tells you what has failed if it doesn't appear in the related search terms for too long

# 37: Related search for images

The related searh feature has been extended in a better way to image searches, based on a number of factors - right from curation to sharing to descriptions.

More details can be found here:

# 38 : Searches for concerts enhanced

This is excellent news for media organisers as well as performance venues who were struggling to get small concerts and fresh performers ranked.

Sites that can present samples of what is expecte to be gained from the concert are even more likely of ranking well.

More details can be found here:

# 39 : Mobile friendly flight searches

The flight search feature haas been extended to mobile devices, for you to adjust your trips and find durations and prices as you talk about your journey on the same device.

More details can be found here:

# 40 : Health Service Index

This one impacts the consumer the most, making it easier to spot treatment centres as well as get descriptions of based on illness symptoms of possible actions steps you coould take.

For the hospitality sector, this will help spread information as well as establish your health services in more and relatively newer environments.

More details can be found here:

And finally [TL:DR]

It's not the updates that would concern you more, because they're targeted at boosting the rankings of the person who presents a solution to an entered query in the best way.

What should concern the everyday search marketer is actually which set of queries they are best suited for, where they are likely to get marked as spam or irrelevant and what all related searches are worth spending time analysing.

#SEO #seomarketing #googlealgorithm #googlesearch
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