Google is constantly tweaking their search algorithms, for better and for worse, in their constant battle for ensuring that 1) Google searchers find what they are looking for, and 2) Google searchers have the best search experience possible. In March of this year, they added a whole list of tweaks and fixes to better serve its users as well as sending their Panda to smack down the sites who need it and prop up the sites who deserve it.
The entire list of updates is massive, so I’ll only discuss the big ones that really affect search and search rankings. If you would like to see the complete list, you can on Google’s blog.
- Improvements to handling symbols for indexing. In the past, Google has always ignored any symbols used in a search query, but they’ve decided to change their tune a bit. For now, the following symbols will be considered in search indexes: “%”, “$”, “\”, “.”, “@”, “#”, and “+”.
- Improvements to results for navigational queries. A navigational query is a search where users are trying to search for something from a particular website. This update provides better search results for those who may not know the right URL or the URL they use has no content (parked domain). The improvements also include navigational query combinations with local search terms.
- Anchor text. Anchor links are links to a specific word or section on a web page. Google has improved the system used to interpret and use anchor links to make all search results with anchor links be more relevant to search. In other words, make sure you optimize your anchor links for search engines. They’re now quite relevant.
- Site quality detection improvements. Yes, here’s the biggie of this entire set of improvements, and this is something that all content marketers need to pay attention to and applaud. LOUDLY. All of these updates help ensure that high quality content sites with fresh content will hit the search results more frequently than content farms and “stale” sites.
- The Panda will come out a little more often to verify that Google’s database is fresh with relevant content.
- The Panda can better detect site quality.
- The Panda can detect old pages more precisely.
- The Panda can also better detect dates for blog/forum pages.
Hopefully Google will see better success with these updates and help quash users of black hat SEO a little. We all know that it won’t stamp them out forever, but any little bit of a setback for them is more than appreciated by all.