In many ways, Google is like a mad scientist; constantly changing how things integrate with each other, all in the hopes of producing better results. We like to think that there’s someone on their end that laughs hysterically when they propose a new idea or feature to add to the algorithm! Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of updates to the code to help rank search engines at the top of the list, so we’ve decided to break down a few of them here for you.
Many things that used to work in the past no longer have the same effect. This is true in so many aspects of Search Engine Optimization, but we continue to run into SEO Companies that still use old techniques and tricks. Rather than focus on those right now, let’s look at things you can do directly in the Search Field on the Google home page!
The “+” Operator is Now Gone
In the past, Google let us use the “+” operator to help us search for specific terms, but they’ve discontinued that in favor of encouraging the use of double quotes. What they say they found was that users actually used the “+” operator in less than half a percent of all searches, and in two thirds of the time, it was used incorrectly. In reality, the “+” operator was not well known and was confusing at best.
To Google’s credit, their algorithms are designed to improve search queries you’ve typed to find the best results. Our SEO Team at Big Red SEO discuss this more in our article “Google Updates: Panda and Penguin for Dummies” Google now employs automatic spelling correction algorithms (dismil to dismal) and substitutes synonyms (matching [pictures] to “photos”). But, what if that doesn’t lead you to what you’re searching for?
Enter – Search Using Your Terms, Via VERBATIM
At Big Red SEO we’ve been using verbatim for over a month now and can attest to it working great. With the verbatim tool on, Google uses the literal words you enter on search queries without making normal improvements such as making automatic spelling corrections, personalizing your search by using information such as sites you’ve visited before. The features we love the most include synonyms of your search terms for example; matching “car” when you search automotive. Several of our SEO clients have used this change to their advantage by finding similar keywords in addition to niche keywords from in their website visitors queries.
In addition to verbatim search, Google now applies similar ideas directly to their algorithms, such as tuning the accuracy of when their query broadening search improvements trigger. If you want to search for a very specific term, be that [carousel] or the [descriptions of beverage labels], we recommend giving the verbatim tool a try. You can access the verbatim search tool once you make your query in Google, go to the “Search tools” at the top of the page and under the “All results” section, select the “Verbatim” option.
500 Changes Every Year!
Google routinely makes changes to their algorithms each year, and in some cases up to 500 modifications are made. While their algorithms are secret, they have provided some transparency with their almost 1,000 blog posts about search and more than 400 webmaster videos. They’ve also written thousands of forum posts about search. Straight from Google’s blog, their most recent updates include:
- Related query results refinements: Sometimes Google fetches results for queries that are similar to the actual search you type. This change makes it less likely that these results will rank highly if the original query had a rare word that was dropped in the alternate query. For example, if you are searching for [rare red widgets], you might not be as interested in a page that only mentions “red widgets.”
- More comprehensive indexing: This change makes more long-tail documents available in their index, so they are more likely to rank for relevant queries.
- New “parked domain” classifier: This is a new algorithm for automatically detecting parked domains. Parked domains are placeholder sites with little unique content for their users and are often filled only with ads. In most cases, Google prefers not to show them.
- More autocomplete predictions: With auto-complete, Google tries to strike a balance between coming up with flexible predictions and remaining true to your intentions. This change makes their prediction algorithm a little more flexible for certain queries, without losing your original intention.
- Fresher and more complete blog search results: Google made a change to their blog search index to get coverage that is both fresher and more comprehensive.
- Original content: Google added new signals to help them make better predictions about which of two similar web pages is the original one.
- Live results for Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League: This change displays the latest scores and schedules from these leagues along with quick access to game recaps and box scores.
- Image result freshness: Google made a change to how they determine image freshness for news queries. This helps them find the freshest images more often.
- Layout on tablets: Google made some minor color and layout changes to improve usability on tablet devices.
- Top result selection code rewrite: This code handles extra processing on the top set of results. For example, it ensures that Google doesn’t show too many results from one site (“host crowding”). They rewrote the code to make it easier to understand, simpler to maintain and more flexible for future extensions.
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Do you have questions regarding search engine updates? Feel free to contact us, our SEO team would love to learn more about your business. Our mission is to help businesses be found where their customers are looking. More than ever, potential customers are searching for services in their local area. We help you get the results you deserve!