Google search algorithm updates December 2011

Google is constantly updating and refining the algorithms that are applied to search results.

In the past it has been very difficult to keep on top of the changes that Google makes, however they have just started to do a monthly update of the more significant changes which they make to improve the relevancy of their search results. Understandably, they are still only mentioning the ones specifically that can’t be “gamed” by web developers!

But recent changes include:

  • Refinements to related query results
  • More comprehensive indexing: This change makes more long-tail documents available in Google results, so they are more likely to rank for relevant queries.
  • A new algorithm for automatically detecting parked domains which are often just placeholder sites that are seldom useful and often filled with ads
  • Improved autocomplete predictions which should make the algorithm a little more flexible for certain queries, without losing the original intention
  • Fresher and more complete blog search results
  • Making better predictions about which of two similar web pages is the original one.
  • Live results for Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League
  • Improved layout on tablets: We made some minor color and layout changes to improve usability on tablet devices.
  • Ensuring that Google don’t show too many results from one site (“host crowding”) at the top of search results

And previously…

  • Improved support for cross-language information retrieval updates
  • Snippets with more page content and less header/menu content: which helps them to choose more relevant text to use in snippets.
  • Better page titles in search results by putting less emphasis on boilerplate anchors. The result is more relevant titles that are specific to the page’s content.
  • Length-based autocomplete predictions in Russian (already applied to English results)
  • Enables people who are searching for software applications to see details, like cost and user reviews, within their search results
  • Retiring a signal in Image search
  • Improvements in how fresh content is ranked
  • Refining how Google determines which pages are official. This will tend to rank official websites even higher in our ranking.
  • Improvements to date-restricted queries which will improve the freshness of queries where a user has chosen a specific date range.
  • Improves how Autocomplete handles queries which contain non-Latin characters

And in the past

Other recent changes has been the introduction of instant search, which auto predicts what you might typing before you’ve finished typing it! This sometimes useful feature originally caused some people to initially complain that the auto predictions was potentially diverting attention away from the search results that would’ve otherwise been displayed.

However this feature has been subsequently improved and refined earlier this year (2011).

The other big change was searches based on geolocation. So if Google knows where you are located (normally based on IP address), then it will tailor search results accordingly.

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