Last night (unlike a typical Friday night post), Google released their monthly update on search quality changes. This month, there were 39 of them that Google shared. I'll go through the ones I find important but I wanted to touch on the Penguin mention.
Google told us that there was a Penguin algo refresh (Penguin 1.1) on May 25th/May 26th depending on your time zone. But was it only a refresh or were their algorithmic changes made to it? Google did make minor algorithmic changes to Penguin based on this post and what Cutts said at SMX Advanced. The post reads:
Improvements to Penguin. [launch codename "twref2", project codename "Page Quality"] This month we rolled out a couple minor tweaks to improve signals and refresh the data used by the penguin algorithm.
It says, "a couple minot tweaks to improve the signals" plus a "refresh the data." Cutts also said at SMX Advanced that they did make minor tweaks to the algorithm. Matt's tweet on May 25th didn't say they didn't do tweaks but implied more of just a data refresh but there is only so much you can fit in a tweet.
Minor weather report: We pushed 1st Penguin algo data refresh an hour ago. Affects <0.1% of English searches. Context: goo.gl/4f7Pq— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 26, 2012
The other key changes announced in this post include inorganic link signals, title tag changes (several of them and noticed complaints in forums), freshness changes, news ranking changes, and some mobile local changes.
- Better application of inorganic backlinks signals. [launch codename "improv-fix", project codename "Page Quality"] We have algorithms in place designed to detect a variety of link schemes, a common spam technique. This change ensures we’re using those signals appropriately in the rest of our ranking.
- Smoother ranking functions for freshness. [launch codename "flsp", project codename "Freshness"] This change replaces a number of thresholds used for identifying fresh documents with more continuous functions.
- Better detection of searches looking for fresh content. [launch codename "Pineapples", project codename "Freshness"] This change introduces a brand new classifier to help detect searches that are likely looking for fresh content.
- Freshness algorithm simplifications. [launch codename “febofu", project codename "Freshness"] This month we rolled out a simplification to our freshness algorithms, which will make it easier to understand bugs and tune signals.
- Trigger alt title when HTML title is truncated. [launch codename "tomwaits", project codename "Snippets"] We have algorithms designed to present the best possible result titles. This change will show a more succinct title for results where the current title is so long that it gets truncated. We’ll only do this when the new, shorter title is just as accurate as the old one.
- Efficiency improvements in alternative title generation. [launch codename "TopOfTheRock", project codename "Snippets"] With this change we’ve improved the efficiency of title generation systems, leading to significant savings in cpu usage and a more focused set of titles actually shown in search results.
- Better demotion of boilerplate anchors in alternate title generation. [launch codename "otisredding", project codename "Snippets"] When presenting titles in search results, we want to avoid boilerplate copy that doesn’t describe the page accurately, such as “Go Back.” This change helps improve titles by avoiding these less useful bits of text.
- Improvements to ranking for news results. [project codename "News"] This change improves signals we use to rank news content in our main search results. In particular, this change helps you discover news content more quickly than before.
- Deeper detection of hacked pages. [launch codename "GPGB", project codename "Page Quality"] For some time now Google has been detecting defaced content on hacked pages and presenting a notice on search results reading, “This site may be compromised.” In the past, this algorithm has focused exclusively on homepages, but now we’ve noticed hacking incidents are growing more common on deeper pages on particular sites, so we’re expanding to these deeper pages.
I love these posts, don't you? All the 39 changes at Google Blog.