Improved Snippets, Rank Boost For “Official” Pages Among 10 New Google Algorithm Changes

Google just posted about ten new algorithm changes it has made to how it shows and ranks search results. These include showing rich snippets more often, improving the quality of snippets, a better way of showing page titles for times when Google ignores the HTML title tag itself and a ranking boost for “official pages,” which Google says it can detect better now.

Snippets & Page Titles

Below are changes related to snippets — the descriptions that Google shows for web pages — and page titles. I’ve quoted from the Google blog post, where that’s appropriate and paraphrased in other cases to make things clearer.

Improved Snippets: Google says that it has a change that allows it to pick more snippet text from the main content on a web page, rather than selecting from headers or menus.

Rich Snippets, More Often: “We recently announced rich snippets for applications. This enables people who are searching for software applications to see details, like cost and user reviews, within their search results. This change extends the coverage of application rich snippets, so they will be available more often.”

Better Page Titles By Using Anchor Text Less: “We look at a number of signals when generating a page’s title. One signal is the anchor text in links pointing to the page. We found that boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so we are putting less emphasis on these.”

More About Snippets & Titles

If you’re confused about why Google doesn’t just use the HTML title tag as a “signal” for creating titles and be done with it, you’re not alone. Google does use the title tag, but it may override this if it thinks it can make a better title on its own. The articles below have more about this:

For more about rich snippets, see these articles from Search Engine Land:

Autocomplete & Translation Changes

Three of the changes relate to how Google shows autocompete suggestions. These impacts are mainly for those who are not searching in English. The rundown:

Autocomplete Fix For IME Queries: “This change improves how Autocomplete handles IME queries (queries which contain non-Latin characters). Autocomplete was previously storing the intermediate keystrokes needed to type each character, which would sometimes result in gibberish predictions for Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.”

Cross-language information retrieval: In these languages — Afrikaans, Malay, Slovak, Swahili, Hindi, Norwegian, Serbian, Catalan, Maltese, Macedonian, Albanian, Slovenian, Welsh, Icelandic — Google now does cross-language information retrieval. That’s where it translates relevant English web pages automatically. This was previously done only for Korean.

Improved Autocomplete For Russian: “This improvement reduces the number of long, sometimes arbitrary query predictions in Russian. We will not make predictions that are very long in comparison either to the partial query or to the other predictions for that partial query. This is already our practice in English.”

Ranking Changes

Four of the changes are relating to how the search results are actually ranked:

Better “Official” Page Detection & Boosting: “We try hard to give our users the most relevant and authoritative results. With this change, we adjusted how we attempt to determine which pages are official. This will tend to rank official websites even higher in our ranking.”

Image Search Loses A Ranking Signal: “We decided to retire a signal in Image Search related to images that had references from multiple documents on the web.”

Better Date-Based Search Results: “We changed how we handle result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a specific date range. This helps ensure that users get the results that are most relevant for the date range that they specify.”

Fresher Results: “As we announced just over a week ago, we’ve made a significant improvement to how we rank fresh content. This change impacts roughly 35 percent of total searches (around 6-10% of search results to a noticeable degree) and better determines the appropriate level of freshness for a given query.”

More About Ranking Changes

The freshness ranking changes, we’ve covered in more depth recently:

As for ranking in general, Google uses thousands of signals to help rank its search results. If you’re trying to understand those more, please see our resources below:

Also see our the Google SEO section of the Search Engine Land Library for many more articles on this topic.

Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer

The post, which was also on the main Google blog, was from Matt Cutts, who many know as the senior software engineer who oversees Google’s spam policing efforts. But if you look closely, you’ll see that Cutts is listed as “Distinguished Engineer.” That’s a title change — congrats on the promotion, Matt.


About The Author

Danny Sullivan
Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.