New changes in Google search results have improved the quality of search queries, helped to better detect black-hat spam, tighten up page rank guidelines, detect hack-sites and provided a better support system for webmasters.
Changes made to Google Search
In his YouTube video announcing the release of Penguin 2.0 and SEO changes made to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) search in late May, Matt Cutts, head of search spam at Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), discussed how the searches will be more accurate and user friendly for anyone who uses Google as their main search engine. For example, Google has developed a function that will make it less likely for users to see results from the same domain name, only if that domain name has appeared in previous results three to four times. Once a cluster of approximately four results appears from a specific domain name, the next pages will be less likely to show that domain name.
These types of changes, along with many others, are designed to make Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s interface easier to navigate for the general public and webmasters.
Below are the changes that have been made:
- Penguin Update: The next generation of Penguin was employed (Penguin 4 a.k.a Penguin 2.0) — Penguin is a webspan change dedicated to locating black-hat webspam, targeting it and eliminating it. The version of Penguin 2.0 “goes a little bit deeper and has a little more of an impact” than it’s previous version.
- Advertorials: A stronger focus has been placed on advertorials and native advertising that violate Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s quality guidelines. According to Cutts, If coverage or an ad is paid for, that ad shouldn’t float page-rank — some sites take money and link to websites and pass page-rank; in response, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has strengthened their guidelines so that there is clear and conspicuous disclosure that something is paid for, rather than organic.
- Spammers: They have figured out new ways to go upstream to deny value to link-spammers and the technique less effective. Cutts also states that queries tend to be spammy in nature, such as [pay day loans] or some pornographic related queries, and Google’s search spam team were less likely to target these in the past.
- Hackers: Google is in the development stages of the next generation of hack-site detection software that’s more comprehensive and communicates more efficiently with webmasters — the aim is once someone realizes that they’ve been hacked, they can go to a one-stop-shop and use webmaster tools to point them in the right direction (if you’re doing high quality content on SEO, this shouldn’t be a big surprise).
- Authority: Giving websites that are leaders in a specific industry or area (such as travel or finance) an “authority boost”. This will create more traffic on your websites through related queries.
- Clarification: They’ve also been trying to find additional signals to help refine things for websites that are in the “grey zone” for quality and be able to decide if they’re candidates for high-quality web pages that could be presented in Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) search results.
The main focus of these recent updates was to get more information to webmasters — this includes more concrete details, more information for sites that are hacked, better ways to assess things, and more example URL’s that webmasters can use to diagnose their sites.
The History of Domain Searches in Google
According to Marketingland.com, Google’s Penguin algorithm initially launched in May of 2012 and Panda’s algorithm launched a year earlier in February of 2011. The difference between the two programs is that Panda impacts a larger percentage of search results, while Penguin is designed to target specific links pointing to a page. Penguin has had the most amount of impact on SEOs, but only affected 3% of search results, as opposed to Panda’s 12%. The recent release on May 22nd, 2013, now only impacts 2.3% of queries, but is much more refined.
The goal of Google search results (and the development of Panda and Penguin) has always been to provide the most diverse results while delivering the highest quality search results that will prove to be useful to the searcher, according to Cutts. Older Google searches had no restrictions to how many results contained the same domain name per page, until they added “host clustering”, which prevents more than two results per domain name in the results.
This was soon surpassed by webmasters who placed content in subdomains, so Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) expanded the host clustering to show three to four domain names per page. Then, they changed the search to show more diversity on the first page and less on the following. Now, Google has made a change to show less from the same domain, even on the following pages, that users have already seen approximately four times.