Google Announced 50+ Search Updates, Which Are Penguin Related?

May 7, 2012 • 8:41 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Google LogoIn Google fashion, late on Friday, Google released their now monthly update on the changes they made to Google search over the past month. It is really great that Google does this and this time they shared 53 changes in April. Here is last months update.

Below I grouped and listed out the more important changes, at least the ones I find to me most important.

But let's try to see which items in this list are Penguin related. Can we even figure that out?

Penguin Related?

  • Anchors bug fix
  • Keyword stuffing classifier improvement
  • More authoritative results
  • Improvement in a freshness signal
  • No freshness boost for low-quality content
  • Improvements to how search terms are scored in ranking

If I had to guess, these and maybe more, are all related to the Penguin update.

Here are some more that I find important but wouldn't specifically related to Penguin, Panda or others:

Ranking Changes:

  • Improvement in a freshness signal. [launch codename "citron", project codename "Freshness"] This change is a minor improvement to one of the freshness signals which helps to better identify fresh documents.
  • No freshness boost for low-quality content. [launch codename "NoRot", project codename "Freshness"] We have modified a classifier we use to promote fresh content to exclude fresh content identified as particularly low-quality.
  • Smoother ranking changes for fresh results. [launch codename "sep", project codename "Freshness"] We want to help you find the freshest results, particularly for searches with important new web content, such as breaking news topics. We try to promote content that appears to be fresh. This change applies a more granular classifier, leading to more nuanced changes in ranking based on freshness.
  • Improvements to how search terms are scored in ranking. [launch codename "Bi02sw41"] One of the most fundamental signals used in search is whether and how your search terms appear on the pages you're searching. This change improves the way those terms are scored.
  • Backend improvements in serving. [launch codename "Hedges", project codename "Benson"] We've rolled out some improvements to our serving systems making them less computationally expensive and massively simplifying code.
  • Keyword stuffing classifier improvement. [project codename "Spam"] We have classifiers designed to detect when a website is keyword stuffing. This change made the keyword stuffing classifier better.
  • More authoritative results. We've tweaked a signal we use to surface more authoritative content.

Link Analysis Changes:

  • Anchors bug fix. [launch codename "Organochloride", project codename "Anchors"] This change fixed a bug related to our handling of anchors.

Index Updates:

  • Increase base index size by 15%. [project codename "Indexing"] The base search index is our main index for serving search results and every query that comes into Google is matched against this index. This change increases the number of documents served by that index by 15%. *Note: We're constantly tuning the size of our different indexes and changes may not always appear in these blog posts.
  • New index tier. [launch codename "cantina", project codename "Indexing"] We keep our index in "tiers" where different documents are indexed at different rates depending on how relevant they are likely to be to users. This month we introduced an additional indexing tier to support continued comprehensiveness in search results.

Search Listings:

  • More domain diversity. [launch codename "Horde", project codename "Domain Crowding"] Sometimes search returns too many results from the same domain. This change helps surface content from a more diverse set of domains.
  • Categorize paginated documents. [launch codename "Xirtam3", project codename "CategorizePaginatedDocuments"] Sometimes, search results can be dominated by documents from a paginated series. This change helps surface more diverse results in such cases.
  • Country identification for webpages. [launch codename "sudoku"] Location is an important signal we use to surface content more relevant to a particular country. For a while we've had systems designed to detect when a website, subdomain, or directory is relevant to a set of countries. This change extends the granularity of those systems to the page level for sites that host user generated content, meaning that some pages on a particular site can be considered relevant to France, while others might be considered relevant to Spain.
  • Disable salience in snippets. [launch codename "DSS", project codename "Snippets"] This change updates our system for generating snippets to keep it consistent with other infrastructure improvements. It also simplifies and increases consistency in the snippet generation process.
  • More text from the beginning of the page in snippets. [launch codename "solar", project codename "Snippets"] This change makes it more likely we'll show text from the beginning of a page in snippets when that text is particularly relevant.
  • Tweak to trigger behavior for Instant Previews. This change narrows the trigger area for Instant Previews so that you won't see a preview until you hover and pause over the icon to the right of each search result. In the past the feature would trigger if you moused into a larger button area.
  • Better query interpretation. This launch helps us better interpret the likely intention of your search query as suggested by your last few searches.
  • News universal results serving improvements. [launch codename "inhale"] This change streamlines the serving of news results on Google by shifting to a more unified system architecture.
  • More efficient generation of alternative titles. [launch codename "HalfMarathon"] We use a variety of signals to generate titles in search results. This change makes the process more efficient, saving tremendous CPU resources without degrading quality.
  • More concise and/or informative titles. [launch codename "kebmo"] We look at a number of factors when deciding what to show for the title of a search result. This change means you'll find more informative titles and/or more concise titles with the same information.
  • "Sub-sitelinks" in expanded sitelinks. [launch codename "thanksgiving"] This improvement digs deeper into megasitelinks by showing sub-sitelinks instead of the normal snippet.
  • Better ranking of expanded sitelinks. [project codename "Megasitelinks"] This change improves the ranking of megasitelinks by providing a minimum score for the sitelink based on a score for the same URL used in general ranking.
  • Sitelinks data refresh. [launch codename "Saralee-76"] Sitelinks (the links that appear beneath some search results and link deeper into the site) are generated in part by an offline process that analyzes site structure and other data to determine the most relevant links to show users. We've recently updated the data through our offline process. These updates happen frequently (on the order of weeks).
  • Less snippet duplication in expanded sitelinks. [project codename "Megasitelinks"] We've adopted a new technique to reduce duplication in the snippets of expanded sitelinks.

Local Changes:

  • More local sites from organizations. [project codename "ImpOrgMap2"] This change makes it more likely you'll find an organization website from your country (e.g. for Mexico rather than
  • Improvements to local navigational searches. [launch codename "onebar-l"] For searches that include location terms, e.g. [dunston mint seattle] or [Vaso Azzurro Restaurant 94043], we are more likely to rank the local navigational homepages in the top position, even in cases where the navigational page does not mention the location.
  • More comprehensive predictions for local queries. [project codename "Autocomplete"] This change improves the comprehensiveness of autocomplete predictions by expanding coverage for long-tail U.S. local search queries such as addresses or small businesses.

Images & Videos:

  • Improvements to SafeSearch for videos and images. [project codename "SafeSearch"] We've made improvements to our SafeSearch signals in videos and images mode, making it less likely you'll see adult content when you aren't looking for it.
  • Improved SafeSearch models. [launch codename "Squeezie", project codename "SafeSearch"] This change improves our classifier used to categorize pages for SafeSearch in 40+ languages.
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