In April 2012, Google introduced a number of changes – 53 to be exact. Most of the highlights include improving algorithm to help users find more high quality sites, changes in indexing, returning relevant results base on users’ locations, and spelling related changes. It is evident in last month update, that Google is placing bigger emphasis on users’ experience, trying to match their expectations, and giving them relevant results at the same time.
As a blogger and internet marketer, I note the following important changes that I personally will be taking into consideration when trying to rank higher for search results:
1. Country identification for web-pages: Google is placing more importance on locations. For a while, Google returns results of specific domains (e.g. co.uk, co.jp, com.sg) depending on where the user come from. With this new update, if any particular webpage or article is written for a particular country, Google will give it “higher points” when ranking the webpage in the search results. For example, even when your marketing website is written generally for Europe readers, an article on “how to market to Korean consumers” may be considered to be more Korean-relevant instead of European. This unlocks an equal opportunity for all writers to rank higher, and provides users with better country-specific results.
2. More domain diversity: Have you noticed that there were times when the top 10 of search results, contains multiple results from the same domain? This change fixes the problem, and Google will now give results from different domains. Heh, maybe now I will have a chance to beat my competitors.
3. Improvements to how search terms are scored in ranking: having the search terms in your content is good. But what about the order? Will it make it better? Most probably. Is it going to be a big ranking indicator – I don’t think so.
4. The Freshness Signal: Google loves new and unique content. Everyone knows about it. Google gives fresh content a boost in the SERPs. But I doubt anyone knows how big/small the boost is. Anyway, good news for bloggers who are complaining that low-quality content are usurping their position. With the improvement in the freshness signals, fresh content are promoted; and low-quality are identified and excluded. So if you are producing quality content, you will still benefit from the SERPs boost given by Google. That is also the reason why we can see new content getting indexed and appearing at the top of search results within hours.
5. Better query interpretation: with this change, search results take into consideration the last few searches conducted. I do wonder how effective keyword research is going to be now. It seems that this is going to make search results more “liquid”, since the same keyword term/phrase used by 2 different users, can now give different results when their previous search queries differ.
6. Keyword stuffing classifier improvement: this was reviewed, and supposedly to work better now. But again, systems are never perfect. So we will have to take note not to repeat too many exact keywords unnecessarily.
7. More authoritative results: While this may be good for users. I lament that for most of the bloggers, including me, we will have a harder time to get into the top 10 positions. It seems to be an unfair advantage for authority sites to get ahead simply because they are recognized as authoritative. A lesser-known blogger can well produce a content that is far more useful and valuable to readers, but if the odds are heavily against him/her, then I do wonder how relevant can the search engine be?
Something light and fun:
If you do a search with the terms “zerg rush”, you will see zergs (units from StarCraft) invading your results. You can try to shoot down the zergs (represented by Os), which come from all directions. Hint: top first :) I guess Google is trying to tell us that searching is now totally different and user-personalized.
What are your thoughts? Have you noticed any changes in your site’s ranking and traffic?
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