Google is constantly on the move. We could fill our blog entirely with Google news and changes if we wanted. Small ones, big ones, useless ones and important changes. Google itself this week decided to tell us about then changes they made to their algorithms. The common denominator in most of the changes is meta information and especially snippets. Google seems to be pushing meta information like snippets in their algorithm to be better able to differentiate the different results.
On their blog Google describes the changes. Let me put them down for you really quickly:
* Cross-language information retrieval updates: translated relevant English web pages into specific languages with translated titles directly below the English titles in the search results.
* Snippets with more page content and less header/menu content: more relevant in snippets. Google is 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: less emphasis on boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text.
* Length-based autocomplete predictions in Russian.
* Extending application rich snippets: application rich snippets will be available more often.
* Retiring a signal in Image search: Google decided to retire a signal in Image Search related to images that had references from multiple documents on the web.
* Fresher, more recent results: a significant improvement in ranking of fresh content (launched last week).
* Refining official page detection: adjustment on how Google attempts to determine which pages are official.
* Improvements to date-restricted queries: Google changed how they handle result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a specific date range.
* Prediction fix for IME queries: This change improves how Autocomplete handles IME queries (queries which contain non-Latin characters).
What do the changes mean?
The remarkable thing about the announcement of these changes is that Google is talking about “algorithm updates”, which might indicate at first sight that it has influence on how a specific page is ranked. If you look closely however you can see that most of the changes are about how information is presented in the SERPS. The focus lies on the snippets: Google continues to give us more enhanced snippets. More relevant content is what Google wants to present. With this Google seems to be trying to ‘clean up’ the search results. We are already seeing a lot of social elements appear, which might clutter the results, but now Google also wants the information about the pages to be as rich as possible.
So no ranking changes? Yes, surely there are
So are none of the changes related to ranking. Yes, some of them are off course. The dropping of the Image Search signal is about ranking and so is ‘Better Date-Based search results’, which has everything to do with specific date range searches. Better “Official” Page Detection & Boosting will definitely give a boost to rankings of brands for example. Having the ‘official’ site on a matter, especially a brand, will become much more important. Fresher results finally, announced last week, is the biggest changer to actual ranking algorithms. Google says that change will affect roughly 35 percent of total searches. It will mean that fresh content yet again gets another push.
Why the focus on the result pages?
Why does Google make changes who so much focus on the result pages? The most obvious answer, which probably is the answer which Google will tell you too and which must at least be part of the ‘real’ answer is that Google is trying to help the end user make better decisions. There is however another reason, maybe. Google must be noticing that the search results are not really getting better and that the user is looking for different ways to get their answers. Google must be thinking that the better looking they can get the results, the more chance people will stick with Google. Because you can find so much more information there. Google is trying to give us as much information as possible to make the right choice. The question however is: will we be able to make that choice, do we want so much choice?