What it is: Each month Google announces some of their latest updates, a few good SEO gems are always included.
Key Google April 2012 Changes to Note:
- The index went up 15%, this means there are 15% more documents in Google’s index.
- New index tier, codenamed “cantina”. There are tiers of different documents, each tier gets indexed at different rates depending on how relevant Google thinks they will be to users. In April 2012, a new indexing tier was added. Not much interesting about the tier, but it is insightful that Google has a method for determining how relevant something is “likely to be to users” and based on that place documents into a specific tier that will determine its rate of indexing. Note, this is about “documents”, not entire websites. Matt McGee felt this sounds like the old Supplemental index, which we don’t hear much about these days (probably because the “Supplemental Results” label went away in the Google interface.)
- There are enhancements to the classifiers designed to detect when a website is keyword stuffing. This means you may need to go back and clean up some of that older, poor quality, keyword-stuffed content that once worked, but can now hold you back.
- There was a signal tweak that allows Google to better surface more authoritative content.
- There was a change to “surface more diverse results” when a search results page is dominated by documents from paginated pages. If you benefited from this in the past, the days are numbered for you to enjoy that.
- There was a change to help fuel greater domain diversity to “surface content from a more diverse set of domains” – personally, I actually experience the reverse happening lately, it was interesting to see this as a change in April.
- An international change was to make it more likely someone international will find a site in from their local country. This means if you are not doing the right things for international SEO, but rely on international markets, then you need to step up your international strategy.
- If a searcher adds a location to a search, Google is now “more likely to rank the local navigational homepages in the top position, even in cases where the navigational page does not mention the location.” Some companies benefiting from #1 positioning may start to get displaced by local businesses.
- There was a change in how search terms on a page are scored, but they did not say how it was changed. I suspect it is in line with their desire to penalize keyword stuffing.
- There was a change to make it more likely Google will display text from the beginning of page in the snippets, when that text is particularly relevant.
- Freshness had three changes related to it: A change to help find the freshest results, such as breaking news and important new content, the change as a granular one.
- Another freshness change was to “exclude fresh content identified as particularly low-quality.” This means, you will get more for you money when you stop paying for 10 junk articles and pay someone to write 1 stellar piece each day.
- Autocomplete was enhanced for localized long-tail US queries and local search queries for items such as an address or small business.
- This one isn’t a change, but proof that Google does not like pages that look like 404 pages, but does not return a 404 status code: “We have signals designed to detect crypto 404 pages (also known as “soft 404s”), pages that return valid text to a browser, but the text only contains error messages, such as ‘Page not found.’ It’s rare that a user will be looking for such a page, so it’s important we be able to detect them.”
- EXPECT TITLE TAGS TO BE CHANGED BY GOOGLE: Google does not only use the page title tag to generate a title for your SERPs listing, they specifically state they use “a variety of signals to generate titles in search results.” The change they made in April “makes the process more efficient, saving tremendous CPU resources without degrading quality” – this means they can now do it more often and faster, which means if you have bad title tags, Google has more bandwidth to rewrite it to what they feel would be better.
- If there are low quality results for a given search term, then the term is not likely to appear in autocomplete. What is not clear is how often they make the determination of when a term will appear or not appear. This makes autocomplete a little more insightful for keyword research.
- This one is very interesting: Site Search Links are Generated Partly by Offline Resources, there was an update to the data in Site Search Links. This happens frequently.
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