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Google's Search Improvement Updates for February 2012

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As part of Google's ongoing efforts to improve the quality of their search results, they report on their blog monthly a list of the ongoing improvements made that month and what they mean for search results. February was a big month with a record 40 improvements on the list. See[URL="http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/search-quality-highlights-40-changes.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InsideSearch+%28Inside+Search%29&utm_content=Google+Reader"] Google's Inside Search blog[/URL] for the full list, but here are some of the key changes that will affect internet marketers:

[COLOR=#000000]Here’s the list for February:
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[LIST][*][B]More coverage for related searches.[/B] [launch codename “Fuzhou”] This launch brings in a new data source to help generate the “Searches related to” section, increasing coverage significantly so the feature will appear for more queries. This section contains search queries that can help you refine what you’re searching for.[*][B]Tweak to categorizer for expanded sitelinks. [/B][launch codename “Snippy”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] This improvement adjusts a signal we use to try and identify duplicate snippets. We were applying a categorizer that wasn’t performing well for our expanded sitelinks, so we’ve stopped applying the categorizer in those cases. The result is more relevant sitelinks.[*][B]Expand the size of our images index in Universal Search.[/B] [launch codename “terra”, project codename “Images Universal”] We launched a change to expand the corpus of results for which we show images in Universal Search. This is especially helpful to give more relevant images on a larger set of searches.[*][B]Improved detection for SafeSearch in Image Search.[/B] [launch codename "Michandro", project codename “SafeSearch”] This change improves our signals for detecting adult content in Image Search, aligning the signals more closely with the signals we use for our other search results.[*][B]Fresher images.[/B] [launch codename “tumeric”] We’ve adjusted our signals for surfacing fresh images. Now we can more often surface fresh images when they appear on the web.[*][B]Update to the Google bar.[/B] [project codename “Kennedy”] We continue to iterate in our efforts to deliver a beautifully simple experience across Google products, and as part of that this month we made further adjustments to the Google bar. The biggest change is that we’ve replaced the drop-down Google menu in the [URL="http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/next-stage-in-our-redesign.html"]November redesign[/URL] with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page.[*][B]International launch of shopping rich snippets. [/B][project codename “rich snippets”][URL="http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/11/rich-snippets-for-shopping-sites.html"]Shopping rich snippets [/URL]help you more quickly identify which sites are likely to have the most relevant product for your needs, highlighting product prices, availability, ratings and review counts. This month we expanded shopping rich snippets globally (they were previously only available in the US, Japan and Germany).[*][B]Improvements to freshness.[/B] [launch codename “iotfreshweb”, project codename “Freshness”] We’ve applied new signals which help us surface fresh content in our results even more quickly than before.[*][B]Improvements to ranking for local search results.[/B] [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.[*][B]Consolidation of signals for spiking topics.[/B] [launch codename “news deserving score”, project codename “Freshness”] We use a number of signals to detect when a new topic is spiking in popularity. This change consolidates some of the signals so we can rely on signals we can compute in realtime, rather than signals that need to be processed offline. This eliminates redundancy in our systems and helps to ensure we can continue to detect spiking topics as quickly as possible.[*][B]Panda update. [/B]This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.[*][B]Link evaluation. [/B]We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.[*][B]SafeSearch update.[/B] We have updated how we deal with adult content, making it more accurate and robust. Now, irrelevant adult content is less likely to show up for many queries.[*][B]Spam update. [/B]In the process of investigating some potential spam, we found and fixed some weaknesses in our spam protections.[*][B]Improved local results.[/B] We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.[/LIST]

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