If you follow any of Google’s blogs, you know that they’re very much about full disclosure when it comes to changes to their search algorithm. Between August and September this year, they completed 65 adjustments to their Penguin and Panda algos that fine tuned many of those functions. Here are five changes that will be of particular interest to the average website owner:
1. Imadex. [project “Freshness”] This change updated handling of stale content and applies a more granular function based on document age.
Google has strongly weighted relevance based on freshness, and this change further enhances that. Your content will be strongest when it is fresh, and your overall site is judged on how often you put out fresh content.
2. nearby. [project “User Context”] We improved the precision and coverage of our system to help you find more relevant local web results. Now we’re better able to identify web results that are local to the user, and rank them appropriately.
Google has provided a substantial number of tools to identify yourself as a local business, with local relevance. From the integration of Google Local and Places to the addition of authorship verification, they want to know where your business is, and they’re enhancing their local contextualization in search results.
3. #83901. [project “Synonyms”] This change improved the use of synonyms for search terms to more often return results that are relevant to the user’s intention.
While keyword stuffing will risk the wrath of the Penguin, the English language is rich with synonyms, and Google is looking for all of them. Don’t repeat yourself in your content; say the same thing in different ways.
4. #83613. [project “Universal Search”] This change added the ability to show a more appropriately sized video thumbnail on mobile when the user clearly expresses intent for a video and #83406. [project “Query Understanding”] We improved our ability to show relevant Universal Search results by better understanding when a search has strong image intent, local intent, video intent, etc.
Google has always shown a strong preference for original video content, and their Query Understanding project is about determining a user’s intent with regard to content type. The new enhancements do a better job at predicting when a user is looking for multimedia content, and includes improvements to how video content is displayed as part of Universal Search.
5. Improvements to the Knowledge Graph
Google launched their Knowledge Graph project back in May, and made a substantial number of improvements in the last couple of months, including adding lists and collections, and an improved carousel display. Larry Page’s mission with the Knowledge Graph is to build the search engine of the future, which is capable of returning relevant results from all public and private data you have access to. Some of the new features present a radical change to search which is much more driven by social context and shared user experiences. A search for “fun things to do in Denver” pull not only traditional web results, but also social media created results relevant to the search, and presents them in a rich way.
There’s a reason that Google owns the lion’s share of the search market, and their constant forward looking approach to development will only increase their importance to website owners. Make sure you’re following their official blogs to stay on top of opportunities to improve your results with early adoption of upcoming search tech.