Google is trying to become more open about their search algorithm changes. Beyond the much-discussed "fresh" update, Google discussed recent changes in SERP titles and descriptions, date-specified searches, image search signals, and more.
While Matt Cutts called this "An experiment in radical transparency", the information remains fairly veiled and covers only a small portion of the algorithm changes that have been made.
Nine Recent Changes to Google's Algorithm
Several of the changes discussed were applicable either globally or specifically for the English-speaking market, while three changes are specifically for foreign markets (the last three on this list). The announced changes are:
- Snippets pulling more from page content.The snippet displayed on the SERP, sometimes en lieu of the meta description for a page, will now pull more often from page content as opposed to menu or header text.
- Displayed page titles pulling less from duplicate boilerplate anchors. The text of navigation links that's identical from page to page will no longer gain additional weight due to the high volume at which the text is repeated.
- Application rich snippets are extended. Apps will now display cost and user review details in the SERP when marked up correctly. (We previously discussed the details of rich app snippets.)
- An image search signal has been retired. While Google wasn't completely clear on what exact signal was retired, something "related to images that had references from multiple documents on the web" is being removed as a ranking factor.
- The detection of official pages has been improved. Official pages are now located and promoted more effectively.
- Results for date range–specific queries will be better organized for that range. Whenever users specify the dates for results, Google will organize the order of results to best meet the specified time period.
- Cross-language information retrieval has been improved. In foreign languages, English web pages will now have an additional translated title on the SERP that will link to a translated version of the page.
- Length issues in autocomplete predictions for Russian have been resolved. Excessively long queries are now being handled appropriately (in much the same way they were already being handled for English).
- Issues with IME autocomplete predictions have been resolved. Autocomplete was inappropriately counting the intermediate keystrokes for IME (non-Latin characters) queries, leading to gibberish predictions for searches in certain languages (i.e., Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian). This has now been resolved.
The One Big Change
The recent fresh search results change places greater weight on how recently content was posted and/or updated. While not all results will be impacted, any queries that are for recent events (e.g., a news story, a current event, details on upcoming events, etc.), recurring events (e.g., events that happen every few years, TV seasons that renew each year, data on sports that will become less relevant very quickly, etc.), or "high decay" terms (e.g., technology items that change regularly, details on politicians who hold different stances now than they did two years ago, etc.).
While more than a third of searches are impacted, "only" 6 to 10 percent of searches (based on language and Google domain) will see a significantly different SERP.
We discussed further details of the fresh search results change to Google's algorithm previously, delving into the winners and losers, the specific types of "fresh" content affected, and methods for using news, blogs, and events to make the most of the change.
What's significant is that Google is now providing additional details on both large and small algorithm alterations. Do you think this is a sign of things to come? Insufficient "hush money" for webmasters and SEOs who want to know details? Or a way to show the various government institutions that are investigating Google that the company is willing to play nice? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.