Google's Ten Most Recent Search Display & Algorithm Updates

Nov 15, 2011 • 9:06 am | comments (12) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google LogoYesterday, Matt Cutts posted on the Google blog about ten recent algorithm changes in the past couple weeks implemented on Google web search.

The changes include ranking, search display and language handling.

There is a lot of discussion around the changes in the forums including at WebmasterWorld, Google Blogoscoped Forums and Sphinn.

The folks at WebmasterWorld are dissecting it more than other places. For one, people have noticed that Google has been changing titles in the search results for a while now but Google now said they are doing this as "Better page titles in search results by de-duplicating boilerplate anchors."

Tedster asked, "Am I missing something here? All ten "algorithm changes" seem to be about the visual and textual appearance of the SERP, but there's nothing about actual ranking changes." Well, there is freshness, which is algorithmic.

Below is a copy of the changes as worded by Matt:

  • Cross-language information retrieval updates: For queries in languages where limited web content is available (Afrikaans, Malay, Slovak, Swahili, Hindi, Norwegian, Serbian, Catalan, Maltese, Macedonian, Albanian, Slovenian, Welsh, Icelandic), we will now translate relevant English web pages and display the translated titles directly below the English titles in the search results. This feature was available previously in Korean, but only at the bottom of the page. Clicking on the translated titles will take you to pages translated from English into the query language.
  • Snippets with more page content and less header/menu content: This change helps us choose more relevant text to use in snippets. As we improve our understanding of web page structure, we are now more likely to pick text from the actual page content, and less likely to use text that is part of a header or menu.
  • Better page titles in search results by de-duplicating boilerplate anchors: We look at a number of signals when generating a page’s title. One signal is the anchor text in links pointing to the page. We found that boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so we are putting less emphasis on these. The result is more relevant titles that are specific to the page’s content.
  • Length-based autocomplete predictions in Russian: This improvement reduces the number of long, sometimes arbitrary query predictions in Russian. We will not make predictions that are very long in comparison either to the partial query or to the other predictions for that partial query. This is already our practice in English.
  • Extending application rich snippets: We recently announced rich snippets for applications. This enables people who are searching for software applications to see details, like cost and user reviews, within their search results. This change extends the coverage of application rich snippets, so they will be available more often.
  • Retiring a signal in Image search: As the web evolves, we often revisit signals that we launched in the past that no longer appear to have a significant impact. In this case, we decided to retire a signal in Image Search related to images that had references from multiple documents on the web.
  • Fresher, more recent results: As we announced just over a week ago, we’ve made a significant improvement to how we rank fresh content. This change impacts roughly 35 percent of total searches (around 6-10% of search results to a noticeable degree) and better determines the appropriate level of freshness for a given query.
  • Refining official page detection: We try hard to give our users the most relevant and authoritative results. With this change, we adjusted how we attempt to determine which pages are official. This will tend to rank official websites even higher in our ranking.
  • Improvements to date-restricted queries: We changed how we handle result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a specific date range. This helps ensure that users get the results that are most relevant for the date range that they specify.
  • Prediction fix for IME queries: This change improves how Autocomplete handles IME queries (queries which contain non-Latin characters). Autocomplete was previously storing the intermediate keystrokes needed to type each character, which would sometimes result in gibberish predictions for Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld, Google Blogoscoped Forums and Sphinn.

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