Google Announces “Megasitelinks,” Image Search Improvements & Better Byline Dates

Google LogoAmong several interesting new search tweaks in Google’s latest monthly recap is a project internally called “Megasitelinks,” along with improvements to Google’s image search tool, its detection of “byline dates” on web documents and much more.

Google just began doing monthly overviews of its search changes in November, and this latest overview includes 30 tweaks that happened in December. Some were announced previously, but there are several interesting ones that weren’t. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Megasitelinks (Localized, Too)

That’s Google’s internal project name for what the post say is an algorithmic improvement for selecting sitelinks. Google’s post doesn’t offer much color about why the name “Megasitelinks” was chosen for this update, but it does share one interesting new implementation: localized sitelinks.

“…we may show sitelinks specific to your metropolitan region, which you can control with your location setting.”

Google has been making a fair amount of updates to its Sitelinks in recent months. We’ve noticed them showing up not only on home pages, but also more frequently on sub-pages. Sitelinks have also expanded to include Google+ data in certain cases, as we reported back in November. And last summer there was the addition of the 12-pack of sitelinks.

I’ve yet to find a query that produces localized sitelinks, but not for lack of trying. (Feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve found/seen one.)

Image Search Improvements

There are two items related to Google Image Search in today’s post:

1. Improved quality signals — Google says its image search algorithm is not only looking for relevant images, but also “linking to the highest quality source pages.” Landing page quality is now an algorithmic signal for image search.

2. Spam detection — Google says it’s applying the spam detection algorithm from its main search results into Image Search.

Byline Dates

Google says it’s now showing “more accurate byline dates” after making some changes to how it determines what date to assign to a web document. There’s no extra detail provided — so I can only speculate that this is part of the change — but I just noticed last night on a search for “blog directories” that Google was showing two old blog posts but with their most recent “updated” dates:


Both of those are at least several years old, but show 2011 as the byline date.

Other Google Changes

There are several other changes mentioned in Google’s blog post:

  • The company says it’s doing a better job of determining where web documents are from, so that its country-restricted search results are more accurate.
  • Google says it’s improved what it calls “soft 404″ detection, which is when websites/servers are configured to send the wrong response code to Google’s spiders.
  • There are two changes mentioned on the topic of related queries, including one that makes the algorithm “more conservative and less likely to introduce results without query words.”

You can see read Google’s blog post for the full list of 30 changes that were made in December.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Rich Snippets | Google: SEO | Google: Sitelinks | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Koby Wong

    Definitely try and figure out how to get updated bylines in your content. The search engines are placing more and more emphasis on fresh content, so it’s definitely one factor that goes into ranking your site.

  • Corey Vandenberg

    By localized site links are you referring to a SERP where a local site or local query has site links showing up for the specific phrase?

  • Megan

    Local, Image, Landing page and query factors are the major changes which i feel. This is gona have a big affect in search engines. Next 3 months is gona see hows things shape up with the updates

  • Walter Schaerer

    I used to have decent traffic from Google Images from a spectacular photograph of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. In the meantime the photograph was copied by a dozen or more other websites and Google now sends the traffic to them…

    The first to hijack my traffic was a spam site. I published the according analytics chart on my post with the original photograph

    After a few days Google noticed and the traffic came back. But then the traffic got hijacked again by less spammy sites and it has not returned ever since.

    Do the new rules imply that if say the organizors of the Singapore F1 race copy my photograph (without my permission) onto their site, they are still entitled to the traffic from Google Images because they are a more valuable landing page for a given topic?

    Should the image traffic not always go to the photographer that posted the original image in the first place? Obviously it may be a bit of a challenge to find the author of an image on the internet but then again they are Google, aren’t they?

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