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Google Search Quality Adjustments for March

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March was a very busy month for Google's search and algorithm updates. Google listed the 50 search quality changes and improvements they made in March on the Official Google Blog yesterday. For the entire list,[URL="http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/04/search-quality-highlights-50-changes.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InsideSearch+%28Inside+Search%29&utm_content=Google+Reader"] see the blog[/URL], but here are 20 of particular interest to internet marketers:

[LIST][*][B]Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing. [/B][launch codename "Deep Maroon"] We generally ignore punctuation symbols in queries. Based on analysis of our query stream, we’ve now started to index the following heavily used symbols: “%”, “$”, “\”, “.”, “@”, “#”, and “+”. We’ll continue to index more symbols as usage warrants.[*][B]Better scoring of news groupings. [/B][launch codename "avenger_2"] News results on Google are organized into groups that are about the same story. We have scoring systems to determine the ordering of these groups for a given query. This subtle change slightly improves our scoring system, leading to better ranking of news clusters.[*][B]Sitelinks data refresh.[/B] [launch codename "Saralee-76"] Sitelinks (the links that appear beneath some search results and link deeper into the respective site) are generated in part by an offline process that analyzes site structure and other data to determine the most relevant links to show users. We’ve recently updated the data through our offline process. These updates happen frequently (on the order of weeks).[*][B]Better indexing of profile pages.[/B] [launch codename "Prof-2"] This change improves the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in our index from more than two-hundred social sites.[*][B]UI refresh for News Universal.[/B] [launch codename "Cosmos Newsy", project codename "Cosmos"] We’ve refreshed the design of News Universal results by providing more results from the top cluster, unifying the UI treatment of clusters of different sizes, adding a larger font for the top article, adding larger images (from licensed sources), and adding author information.[*][B]High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements. [/B][launch codename “mm”, project codename "Panda"] Like many of the changes we make, aspects of our high-quality sites algorithm depend on processing that’s done offline and pushed on a periodic cycle. In the past month, we’ve pushed updated data for “Panda,” as we mentioned in a [URL="https://twitter.com/#!/google/status/183312403100995584"]recent tweet[/URL]. We’ve also made improvements to keep our database fresher overall.[*][B]More relevant image search results.[/B] [launch codename "Lice"] This change tunes signals we use related to landing page quality for images. This makes it more likely that you’ll find highly relevant images, even if those images are on pages that are lower quality.[*][B]SafeSearch algorithm tuning.[/B] [launch codenames "Fiorentini", “SuperDyn”; project codename "SafeSearch"] This month we rolled out a couple of changes to our SafeSearch algorithm. We’ve updated our classifier to make it smarter and more precise, and we’ve found new ways to make adult content less likely to appear when a user isn't looking for it[*][B]Tweaks to handling of anchor text. [/B][launch codename "PC"] This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.[*][B]Better application ranking and UI on mobile. [/B]When you search for apps on your phone, you’ll now see richer results with app icons, star ratings, prices, and download buttons arranged to fit well on smaller screens. You’ll also see more relevant ranking of mobile applications based on your device platform, for example Android or iOS.[*][B]Improvements to freshness in Video Universal.[/B] [launch codename "graphite", project codename "Freshness"] We’ve improved the freshness of video results to better detect stale videos and return fresh content.[*][B]Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent.[/B] [launch codename "ShieldsUp"] Some queries have both local intent and are very navigational (directed towards a particular website). This change improves the balance of results we show, and helps ensure you’ll find highly relevant navigational results or local results towards the top of the page as appropriate for your query.[*][B]Improvements to freshness. [/B][launch codename "Abacus", project codename "Freshness"] We launched an improvement to freshness late last year that was very helpful, but it cost significant machine resources. At the time we decided to roll out the change only for news-related traffic. This month we rolled it out for all queries.[*][B]Improvements to processing for detection of site quality. [/B][launch codename "Curlup"] We’ve made some improvements to a longstanding system we have to detect site quality. This improvement allows us to get greater confidence in our classifications.[*][B]Better interpretation and use of anchor text. [/B]We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.[*][B]Better local results and sources in Google News.[/B] [launch codename "barefoot", project codename "news search"] We’re deprecating a signal we had to help people find content from their local country, and we’re building similar logic into other signals we use. The result is more locally relevant Google News results and higher quality sources.[*][B]Better synonym accuracy and performance. [/B][project codename "Synonyms"] We’ve made further improvements to our synonyms system by eliminating duplicate logic. We’ve also found ways to more accurately identify appropriate synonyms in cases where there are multiple synonym candidates with different contexts.[*][B]Improvements to Image Search relevance.[/B] [launch codename "sib"] We’ve updated signals to better promote reasonably sized images on high-quality landing pages.[*][B]More precise detection of old pages. [/B][launch codename "oldn23", project codename “Freshness"] This change improves detection of stale pages in our index by relying on more relevant signals. As a result, fewer stale pages are shown to users.[*][B]Expanded sitelinks on mobile. [/B]We’ve launched our [URL="http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/08/evolution-of-sitelinks-expanded-and.html"]expanded sitelinks[/URL] feature for mobile browsers, providing better organization and presentation of sitelinks in search results.[/LIST]For more on Google's quality search changes in March see [URL="http://searchengineland.com/googles-march-updates-anchor-text-image-search-navigational-search-more-117285"]SearchEngineLand[/URL] and [URL="http://www.seroundtable.com/google-adwords-quality-score-14967.html"]SERoundTable[/URL].

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