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Search Quality Changes from Google

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Google just posted on their blog a review of all the changes that were done in December. There are [URL="http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/01/30-search-quality-highlights-with.html"]30 in all[/URL], but here are some highlights for internet marketers:

[LIST][*][B]Image Search landing page quality signals.[/B] [launch codename “simple”] This is an improvement that analyzes various landing page signals for Image Search. We want to make sure that not only are we showing you the most relevant images, but we are also linking to the highest quality source pages.[*][B]More relevant sitelinks.[/B] [launch codename “concepts”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We improved our algorithm for picking [URL="http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=47334"]sitelinks[/URL]. The result is more relevant sitelinks; for example, we may show sitelinks specific to your metropolitan region, which you can control with your location setting.[*][B]Soft 404 Detection. [/B]Web servers generally return the 404 status code when someone requests a page that doesn’t exist. However, some sites are configured to return other[URL="http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=40132"]status codes[/URL], even though the page content might explain that the page was not found. We call these [URL="http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=181708"]soft 404s[/URL] (or “crypto” 404s) and they can be problematic for search engines because we aren’t sure if we should ignore the pages. This change is an improvement to how we detect soft 404s, especially in Russian, German and Spanish. For all you webmasters out there, the best practice is still to always use the correct response code.[*][B]Better spam detection in Image Search.[/B] [launch codename “leaf”] This change improves our spam detection in Image Search by extending algorithms we already use for our main search results.[*][B]More accurate byline dates.[/B] [launch codename “foby”] We made a few improvements to how we determine what date to associate with a document. As a result, you’ll see more accurate dates annotating search results.[*][B]Improved dataset for related queries.[/B] We are now using an improved dataset on term relationships to find related queries. We sometimes include results for queries that are related to your original search, and this improvement leads to results from more relevant related queries.[*][B]Related query improvements.[/B] [launch codename “lyndsy”] Sometimes we fetch results for queries that are related to the original query but have fewer words. We made several changes to our algorithms to make them more conservative and less likely to introduce results without query words.[*][B]Tweak to +1 button on results page. [/B]As part of our continued effort to deliver a beautifully simple user experience across Google products, we’ve made a subtle tweak to how the +1 button appears on the results page. Now the +1 button will only appear when you hover over a result or when the result has already been +1’d.[*][B]Upcoming events at venues. [/B]We've improved the recently released [URL="http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/10/new-way-to-get-information-about-real.html"]places panel[/URL] for event venues. For major venues, we now show up to three upcoming events on the right of the page. Try it for [[URL="http://www.google.com/search?q=staples+center+los+angeles"]staples center los angeles[/URL]] or [[URL="http://www.google.com/search?q=paradise+rock+club+boston"]paradise rock club boston[/URL]].[*][B]Improvements to image size signal.[/B] [launch codename “matter”] This is an improvement to how we use the size of images as a ranking signal in Image Search. With this change, you’ll tend to see images with larger full-size versions.[*][B]Safer searching.[/B] [launch codename “Hoengg”, project codename "SafeSearch"] We updated our [URL="http://www.google.com/familysafety/tools.html"]SafeSearch[/URL] tool to provide better filtering for certain queries when strict SafeSearch is enabled.[*][B]Faster mobile browsing.[/B] [launch codename “old possum”, project codename “Skip Redirect”] Many websites redirect smartphone users to another page that is optimized for smartphone browsers. This change uses the final smartphone destination url in our mobile search results, so you can bypass all the redirects and load the target page faster.[/LIST]

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