It’s back. And it’s bigger than ever.
I’m talking about Google’s monthly announcement of search quality/algorithm changes — an announcement that the company skipped in July, making the one that they posted late Friday afternoon the biggest ever, with a reported 86 changes covering June and July.
As I’m wont to do, below is a look at some of the items that caught my eye in reading about Google’s changes. And as you’re often wont to do, feel free to use the comments at the end to talk about the things that stand out for you.
If you’re a regular and active Twitter user, and if you follow a fair amount of SEO industry accounts, chances are good that you’ve seen a lot of complaints over the past month or two about how some domains are utterly dominating Google’s search results. On some queries, it’s not been unusual to see the first 8-9 results coming from one domain.
Methinks that has to do with what Google calls “site clustering,” and that was a common item in Google’s blog post:
- #82541. [project codename "Other Ranking Components"] This is one of multiple projects that we’re working on to make our system for clustering web results better and simpler.
- NoPathsForClustering.[project codename "Other Ranking Components"] We’ve made our algorithm for clustering web results from the same site or same path (same URL up until the last slash) more consistent. This is one of multiple projects that we’re working on to make our clustering system better and simpler.
- bergen.[project codename "Other Ranking Components"] This is one of multiple projects that we’re working on to make our system for clustering web results better and simpler.
“Better and simpler”? I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? But sure, when 90 percent of the results on page one are from the same domain, you could certainly call it “simpler.”
Google has gone back and forth on this topic over the years. It used to be that no more than 2-3 results from one domain would appear, and the 2nd/3rd results would be indented below the first. Then, if my memory is correct, Google removed the indents and began showing nearly a full page of results from a single domain — and later pulled back on that, limiting a single domain to only getting about four listings on a single page of results.
Now it looks like that’s been changed again and people are seeing 8-9 results from one domain on page one. And if there are “multiple projects” related to this, I suspect we may continue to see more changes in the coming month(s) where site clustering is concerned.
Google’s pretty vague on this (big surprise!), but I wanted to point out that there are no fewer than a half-dozen changes in what the company is calling its “Page Quality” project.
- Bamse. [project codename "Page Quality"] This launch helps you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
- Bamse-17L.[project codename "Page Quality"] This launch helps you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
- GreenLandII.[project codename "Page Quality"] We’ve incorporated new data into the Panda algorithm to better detect high-quality sites and pages.
- #82353.[project codename "Page Quality"] This change refreshes data for the Panda high-quality sites algorithm.
- #82666.[project codename "Page Quality"] This launch helps you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
- Hamel.[project codename "Page Quality"] This change updates a model we use to help you find high-quality pages with unique content.
Notice a theme above? “High-quality content” … “trusted sources” … “unique content” … all the stuff that Google’s been cranking the dial about in the last 18 months or so.
What Is “ng2″?
This one’s interesting:
ng2. [project codename "Other Ranking Components"] Better ordering of top results using a new and improved ranking function for combining several key ranking features.
I have no idea what that’s about, but it looks important. Better ordering of top results based on the combination of several important ranking elements. Hmmmmmmmmmm……….
Google’s post includes four changes that are related to how Sitelinks work.
- gas station. [project codename "Snippets"] This change removes the boilerplate text in sitelinks titles, keeping only the information useful to the user.
- Manzana2.[project codename "Snippets"] This launch improves clustering and ranking of links in the expanded sitelinks feature.
- yoyo.[project codename "Snippets"] This change leads to more useful text in sitelinks.
- Challenger.[project codename "Snippets"] This is another change that will help get rid of generic boilerplate text in Web results’ titles, particularly for sitelinks.
Although each one specifically mentions Sitelinks, I think some of the same things are happening with regular (non-Sitelink) results. I wrote on my personal blog a couple months ago about different ways that Google is handling the title tag, and it’s similar to what’s listed above for Sitelinks — Google is basically taking the liberty to rewrite titles, drop “boilerplate text” and make the wording of individual search results more user-friendly.
Above are the things that stood out the most for me, but you should also check out Google’s full announcement for additional things, like:
- 23 things related to a project called “Answers,” with several updates to how Google shows query answers atop search results.
- Three things related to Universal Search results display – News, Local and Images.
- A handful of Panda-related items, all of which I think we covered here on Search Engine Land.
Your turn: What items in Google’s post caught your eye? Comments are open.
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- Google’s January Search Update: Panda In The Pipelines, Fresher Results, Date Detection & More
- Google: Parked Domains, Scraper Sites Targeted Among New Search Changes
- Improved Snippets, Rank Boost For “Official” Pages Among 10 New Google Algorithm Changes