Post-Pubcon 2011: Google News and Changes

In the wake of Pubcon, Google has announced multiple significant changes to the algorithm, a welcome change (back) to search, and some improvements to the Google + social network. In this post, we’ll discuss all three changes/updates/news items (whatever you want to call them) in-depth.


Google Plus SERPs Integration Puzzle Pieces

 

Algorithmic Changes

Recently, Google revealed 10 significant algorithmic changes that the search engine has made recently, with the following disclaimer:

“…please remember that this is only a sampling of the hundreds of changes we make to our search algorithms in a given year, and even these changes may not work precisely as you’d imagine. We’ve decided to publish these descriptions in part because these specific changes are less susceptible to gaming.”

The most significant changes, in my opinion, are the following:

Page Title Generation

Google announces that, when generating a page’s title, they “de-duplicate boilerplate anchors” – so they not use these types of “boilerplate links with duplicated text” as much anymore because they are not relevant. Rather, they will look at more unique anchor text that will provide more relevant information about the page it is generating titles for. While the search engine does use the information you provide in the HTML to create your title tag, according to Search Engine Land, if Google thinks that it can generate a better, more relevant title in other ways, it will. (The way snippets are generated is also changing: “This change helps us choose more relevant text to use in snippets. As we improve our understanding of web page structure, we are now  more likely to pick text from the actual page content, and less likely to use text that is part of a header or menu).

 

Official Pages and Fresh Results

In an effort to provide the most authoritative results possible, Google’s algorithm changed to allow for better “official” page detection. Once detected, official pages will likely rank higher than other sites.

Fresh Results: We’ve discussed this change at length on our blog. Google notes that, while 35% of all searches are impacted, only around 10% are noticeably so. To learn about those who were impacted by the algorithm update, read here.  

The remaining changes announced by Google (there were 10 total) include updates to “cross-language information retrieval,” shorter Russian autocomplete predictions, extended application rich snippets, the retirement of a signal in image search, improve relevancy of date-restricted queries, and an IME query prediction fix.

 

Search Changes

This section would more aptly be called “search returns to something good that worked and we don’t know why Google changed it in the first place” but, unfortunately, it’s not as concise as yours truly likes to be, generally.  What the heck am I talking about, you ask? The cold medicine is clouding my brain, you assert?

Well, that might be true. But so is what I’m saying (please forgive my sorry attempt at wit this morning). Before Google snatched it away from users, there used to be a ‘+’ that you could place before any query that would allow you to get search results that were verbatim – basically, that definitely contained the word or words you typed after it. While you could continue to put double quotation marks around your search query, many were up in arms because doing exact, specific searches was just not the same without the “+.”

And so “Verbatim” search was born (or reborn?). By responding to complaints, Google has proven that it truly does care about user experience.  Verbatim search allows you to type in queries without Google automatically correcting mistakes, is not impacted by your previous search activity, and provides you the opportunity to find all queries that match the exact words you have typed in (without suggesting synonyms or similar results) To use verbatim search, however, you have to go to a separate search box.

 

How Verbatim Works

First, open search tools:

 

Verbatim Search Step 1

 

Next, click “Verbatim:”

 

Verbatim Search Step 2

 

And here’s an example of how it works:

 

Verbatim Search Example

 

As you can see, Google knows I’m likely looking for EverSpark Interactive in this search, but does not alter my verbatim search results to reflect that. Though the suggestion is there that I may have meant something else, the results provided all contain exactly what I typed into the query box.

 

Google + Improvements

Any social network – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – with pages that are useful to businesses should be able to be managed via third party platforms. And now Google +’s new brand pages can be. Hootsuite, Buddy Media and others now include Google + functionality. YAY!

More Google + changes are rolling out slowly and are sure to reflect how the search engine wants its social network to change the game (and by the game, I mean the search results). Right now, this functionality is only working for some brands – specifically, some of those brands (but not all) fortunate enough to have Direct Connect enabled by Google for them (remember, when a brand is enabled for Direct Connect, you can search it by typing +Brand, the searcher is automatically directed to their Google + brand page). Now, when you search a brand enabled for Direct Connect, “Add to Circles” will show up beside the results (if you are signed into Google +), as will recent Google + posts (for this new addition, you do not need to be signed in).

Eventually, this functionality will be there for all brands – and this integration of search results with Google + will change the SERPs significantly (and the necessity for brands to create pages on Google + will change from necessary to REALLY necessary). Further, in the future this type of functionality will allow for close and transparent relationships to exist among brands and their customers/potential customers.

 

More Information

If you’re looking for more information about Google +, Google, SEO or search engine marketing in general, check back with our blog for regular updates about everything interactive marketing. If you’re looking for information more specifically related to your business and website, give our Atlanta SEO company a call at 770-481-1766.

Related Information:

Google + Brand Pages Are Here!

Google + Brand Pages Coming Soon

Google + Gains Users, Improves Hashtag Functionality

Google + Gains Momentum (Despite Facebook’s Overhaul)

Google’s Algorithmic Change Process Explained

Google + Makes Brands Even More Relevant

Google + May Ultimately Help Small Businesses

How Will Google + Business Profiles Compare to Facebook Pages?

Google Launches its Social Network, Google +