Google Releases 39 Search Quality Updates for May

by / Sunday, 17 June 2012 / Published in News

It’s that time again…Google’s monthly list is out, and compared to last month, it is much tamer.

There are some notable topics worth mentioning, though. And you may want to listen up if your site was affected by the recent Penguin update.

Google made changes to its backlinking spam signals.

Better application of inorganic backlinks signals. [launch codename “improv-fix”, project codename “Page Quality”] We have algorithms in place designed to detect a variety of link schemes, a common spam technique. This change ensures we’re using those signals appropriately in the rest of our ranking.

What are link schemes? Take a look at Google’s definition:

If you feel you were downgraded due to “shoddy” links, remove them as soon as possible and you may see improvement.

Pay CLOSE attention to this statement: “The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity.”

Consider every site that links to yours as an extension of your website. If the sites are unfavorable, it will reflect poorly on your website. Google looks to the sites that link to you to receive information about your site.
Penguin Updates

Google made more changes to Penguin, adding that minor tweaks improved the signals.

Improvements to Penguin. [launch codename “twref2”, project codename “Page Quality”] This month we rolled out a couple minor tweaks to improve signals and refresh the data used by the penguin algorithm.

This update (a.k.a. Penguin 1.1) most likely occurred around May 25 as reported by Matt Cutts on Twitter, although he referenced more of a refresh rather than an update. Cutts also mentioned Penguin tweaks at the SMX Advanced conference.

Penguin will continue to target webspam in many forms, especially as it relates to linking. Make sure your site is not involved in any of the following activities so you are prepared for future updates:

Blog networks – Once Build My Rank went down in flames, people started taking notice that Google was serious about penalizing sites publishing content solely for links. While Google cannot enter your head and decide whether your content was created for links, it can examine the site containing your link to make its decision.

Here are some criteria to determine if the sites linking to you are a problem:

Does the site contain content spanning many topics? If the site includes article topics discussing everything from fashion trends to Pennsylvania lemon laws, consider it a spammy site.
Does the site contain content with many exact match keyword links?
Does the content lack value and readability?
Are ads pervading the page and outshining the content?
Does the site have any malware or spam programs?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your links are suspect. Furthermore, if you used blog commenting in the past with exact match keywords, Penguin may come and get you if you are not careful.

Relevancy and quality are important factors in determining whether a link is spammy. The site should have a specific purpose, be free of excessive ads, and include relevant content that is not present solely for linking purposes.
Title Changes

Google has taken the liberty to shorten your web page titles as it sees fit. The new updates improve this feature:

Trigger alt title when HTML title is truncated. [launch codename “tomwaits”, project codename “Snippets”] We have algorithms designed to present the best possible result titles. This change will show a more succinct title for results where the current title is so long that it gets truncated. We’ll only do this when the new, shorter title is just as accurate as the old one.

Efficiency improvements in alternative title generation. [launch codename “TopOfTheRock”, project codename “Snippets”] With this change we’ve improved the efficiency of title generation systems, leading to significant savings in cpu usage and a more focused set of titles actually shown in search results.

Better demotion of boilerplate anchors in alternate title generation. [launch codename “otisredding”, project codename “Snippets”] When presenting titles in search results, we want to avoid boilerplate copy that doesn’t describe the page accurately, such as “Go Back.”

If you don’t want Google messing with your titles, keep them short and to the point.

Some other May updates…
Freshness got a boost with improved detection methods to identify searchers expecting fresh content.
Improved news results ranking
Better identification of the Google+ pages displayed in the right-hand panel.
Enhancements made to Google’s detection of hacked pages. The search engine will now dig deeper into a website to detect hacking incidents.

That about sums up the important Google changes for May.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. Until next month…