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50 Changes for March Search Quality and the 9 You Need to Know

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50 Search Algorithm Changes by GoogleSince November last year,  Google’s Inside Search blog has been releasing a monthly summary of changes made to improve the quality of its search results and provide transparency for webmasters.

Last month proved to be a busy month of changes for the search engine giant, with 50 improvements made to its algorithm. While there is a multitude of information behind each algorithm change (watch the video in my last post on Google analysts refining an algorithm change), for businesses, there are only a handful of changes that require attention.

Search Algorithm Highlights

1. Sitelinks data refresh. [launch codename “Saralee-76″]

SEO Wikipedia Sitelinks
Example: SEO Wikipedia Sitelinks

This change has been made to better improve the relevancy of the links that appear underneath some search results (only sites that have been deemed authoritative for a particular search query will show sitelinks). If you have a website, you may want to look at improving the internal linking to pages that have an immediate step to a conversion page. It is also worthwhile to ensure that your navigation menu items are based on keywords that define your website.

2. More relevant image search results. [launch codename “Lice”]

Image Search for Chuck Norris
Example: Image Search for Chuck Norris

This algorithm change focuses on images. Rather than ranking the results by the SEO quality of the website, image search is contiually being refined to let the most relevant images appear, regardless of the ranking of the website on which they are hosted. This is a good reminder to ensure that all of your images have optimised and descriptive filenames, as well as appropriate ALT tags.

3. Improvements to freshness in Video Universal. [launch codename “graphite”, project codename “Freshness”]

Chuck Norris Search Video Results
Example: Chuck Norris Search Results for Video

Does your video lack views, comments and other signs of user engagement? It may be time to start creating content that shines. Google’s video arm, YouTube, will be refined to return the freshest content relating to the user query.

4. Improvements to freshness. [launch codename “Abacus”, project codename “Freshness”]

Chuck Norris Search Query
Example: Chuck Norris Search Query

In one day, enough information is consumed by internet traffic to fill over 168 million DVDs! It’s no wonder this algorithm change needs to be constantly refined. Project “freshness” deals with returning the latest and most relevant information for all search queries.

5. Improvements to processing for detection of site quality. [launch codename “Curlup”]

Google Panda

A continuation of the Google Panda algorithm update to remove spam content, identify sites with good site design, identify sites with a high click through rate and social engagement, and many other factors that relate to the user experience.

6. Better interpretation and use of anchor text.

This change has been put into effect due to political candidates in the U.S. appearing for inappropriate search queries.  This may impact the strength of the anchor text as an SEO factor – depending on what types of queries this algorithm change will affect.

7. Improvements to Image Search relevance. [launch codename “sib”]

Continuing on from point 2, maximise your image search traffic by using large, high quality images. This would be an important highlight for E-Commerce sites with product images.

8. Improvements in date detection for blog/forum pages. [launch codename “fibyen”, project codename “Dates”]

An all important reminder to ensure that your site is up to date and that your content remains fresh, particularly when it comes to industry updates, news updates and company updates.

9. More precise detection of old pages. [launch codename “oldn23″, project codename “Freshness”]

Similar to point 8, it is not enough to have relevant content. Having a part of your site like a blog or news page to provide continuous updated and current content will help to ensure that your site overall, stays on top.

Head over to The Official Google Search blog for the complete list.

Have these algorithm changes begun to affect your site? Let me know your experience!

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is a digital communications specialist helping businesses grow through targeted content. She has been featured on prominent websites including Wordpress.com and Slideshare.net. Paula enjoys photography, internet memes and watching cats on YouTube.

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