Google’s January search quality updates

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Picture credit: Google

The official Google Search Blog publishes a lot of information and includes monthly updates on how they are improving search quality. This is great if you are working in or on Search engine optimization but a lot of the details don’t give away instantly what you should do to your search engine optimization to benefit: plus there is a lot in there that has little importance to most people: such as it being easier for users in Saudi Arabia to now use an English interface to search.

We break down the important information from January’s changes, the most recent to be published, and what it means for your Search engine optimization:

Fresher results is an important change, as a searcher this is great as too often we want information on something and the results being served up are very out of date, Google then are striving to get a better balance between relevance and freshness. This will of course affect your search engine optimization and mean that pages that have been pulling in traffic for years may suddenly drop traffic. The solution is to not only add more fresh content but to update pages. By updating existing pages Google will still see items as fresh content but you don’t lose any of your inbound links: as you would if you republished, in which case you would also potentially have duplicate content problems.

Google have also announced that they will particularly focus on fresher results from pages for recurring events; if you run an event or festival this is useful so that people come through to information on your next date rather than pages for previous years, which are of course worth keeping to maintain inward links to your domain.

Google have also sped up Autocomplete, many in Search Engine Optimization haven’t given auto-complete as much thought as they should. Google now not only give you suggestions but load up results for those questions: this makes it much more likely that someone won’t complete the search they originally planned and will go for another one. The effect of this is that long tail keywords will be searched for less and prime keywords will see searches increase even more.

Apparently Panda has been updated again to improve the number of high-quality sites appearing in results, they don’t say what changes have been made but as with most of the major Panda updates high quality, sticky content and navigation that keeps people on site is what the SEO doctor ordered; this is essential if you have found that your site has been slipping down Google’s rankings. Remember that videos, including a text transcription, are especially good at keeping people on site for longer: which Google records and takes as a sign of a high quality site.

Another minor factor for your search engine optimization is that Google have improved Autocomplete spelling corrections and this includes for rarer searches and spellings: this means that some terms that Google thought were misspellings it will realise are not, this includes a lot of proper nouns of course. Also though less people will get search results based on misspellings so putting effort into using misspellings as keywords really is a thing of the past.

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