Another 50 changes graced the pages of Google’s Insider Search blog this week.
In an effort to become more transparent, Google continues to update webmasters every month educating them on what’s happening in the “Googlesphere.”
This month’s changes were just as ambiguous as last month, but many features are at least worth a mention. Some of these updates could lead to future changes that will affect many more sites so it’s always a good practice to stay abreast of what’s going on behind Google’s closed doors.
Here are some of the highlights:
Panda, Relevancy, and Freshness
Panda is not a new word in the internet marketing industry. Google rolled out the Panda update several years ago and continues to update it to make search results more useful.
Google tweeted about a recent Panda update:
In the March blog post, Google mentioned Panda along with the Freshness update.
High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements. [launch codename “mm”, project codename "Panda"] Like many of the changes we make, aspects of our high-quality sites algorithm depend on processing that’s done offline and pushed on a periodic cycle. In the past month, we’ve pushed updated data for “Panda,” as we mentioned in a recent tweet. We’ve also made improvements to keep our database fresher overall.
More mention was made of freshness in the following posts:
Improvements to freshness in Video Universal. [launch codename "graphite", project codename "Freshness"] We’ve improved the freshness of video results to better detect stale videos and return fresh content.
Improvements to freshness. [launch codename "Abacus", project codename "Freshness"] We launched an improvement to freshness late last year that was very helpful, but it cost significant machine resources. At the time we decided to roll out the change only for news-related traffic. This month we rolled it out for all queries.
More precise detection of old pages. [launch codename "oldn23", project codename “Freshness"] This change improves detection of stale pages in our index by relying on more relevant signals. As a result, fewer stale pages are shown to users.
We can deduce that Google is “amping up” its Freshness update and has been since its November 2011 initiation. Before March, freshness was applied to only news searches, but now all search queries will see the changes.
This means that blogging and adding fresh content to our websites will be more important than ever. Video and images will also be grouped in the freshness update. Google also mentioned an improvement to detecting stale pages or those that have not been updated.
Image search will also improve and users will be fed more relevant images. These relevant images will rank higher than others even if the landing page on which they are located is of low quality.
Tip: Google will continue to reward fresh content in the form of videos, images and copy. One blog post or video will not cut it anymore. The more you can publish on a weekly/monthly basis, the more you will be rewarded by Google. If it is too overwhelming to release that much content, consider breaking up your pieces into parts or smaller segments and releasing them over a period of time to keep things fresh and new.
Also, try refreshing some of your old content. We still do not know yet if this will contribute to “freshness” but it is worth a try and a good practice overall.
Google announced that symbols will now be indexed instead of ignored. If you have a website domain name that includes one of these symbols, you may have seen a boost.
Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing. [launch codename "Deep Maroon"] We generally ignore punctuation symbols in queries. Based on analysis of our query stream, we’ve now started to index the following heavily used symbols: “%”, “$”, “”, “.”, “@”, “#”, and “+”. We’ll continue to index more symbols as usage warrants.
Google made navigational query improvements to local search. Users will experience more relevant results for their local searches and see this data towards the top of the results page.
Since the introduction of the “Search Plus Your World” update, social sites have been slamming Google for favoring Google+ in the search results. Google seems to be giving in a little by posting the following in the March update:
Better indexing of profile pages. [launch codename "Prof-2"] This change improves the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in our index from more than two-hundred social sites.
Google will make the search results more comprehensive by including more variation related to the social site profiles it indexes and ranks.
Anchor text is the text or phrases that accompany a link.
Google made two references to changes involving anchor text:
Better interpretation and use of anchor text. We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.
Tweaks to handling of anchor text. [launch codename "PC"] This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.
These posts do not really explain anything new since Google did not offer any details. We can surmise that anchor text manipulation will be targeted and a more natural linking campaign will be rewarded, but no one knows for sure. We do know that Matt Cutts, head of Google’s search quality team, mentioned a new over-optimization penalty coming soon so the anchor text updates may tie in with that—only time will tell.
As always, focus on providing your website visitors value with natural links and keywords. Refrain from keyword stuffing and adding links to try to manipulate rankings.
- Security – When you change your passwords, Google will sign you out of all your accounts.
- With the SafeSearch update, users will see less adult content when searching for unrelated information.
- Google improved the mobile search interface to make it more user-friendly
- Real-time tennis scores and live sports updates from many leagues are now featured when users search for related information.
Have you noticed any changes with your website rankings? Which update will affect you?