Google revealed 10 algorithm changes it made to its search engine this fall as it seeks to be more transparent at a time when the Federal Trade Commission is looking into its search business.
(NASDAQ:GOOG) Nov. 14 peeled away another layer of the multifaceted onion that
comprises its search engine by revealing 10 specific algorithm changes the
company has made.
has traditionally closely guarded its search technology signals, or the 1,000-plus
factors that help Google.com serve results at such a prodigious clip.
Yet Google is
endeavoring to appear more transparent about its search technology in the face
of the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation into its core business.
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) accused Google in a Congressional
hearing in September
of "cooking" its search results to
favor its own products.
To wit, Google
detailed 10 of the roughly 500 changes it makes each year. Specifically, Google
added increased page content and decreased header and menu content for its
search snippets, which are strings of text from search results to give users an
idea of whether those results might be useful enough to warrant a click.
Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts, who detailed the changes in a corporate blog
post, said Google is more likely to pick text
actual page content in the future.
extended rich snippets for applications, which help users searching for
applications see details such as cost and reviews.
improved the way it hunts for and finds "official" Web pages and
changed how it handles result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a
specific date range. Moreover, Cutts and his crew worked to provide better page
titles in search results by de-duplicating boilerplate anchors.
that boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so we
are putting less emphasis on these," he said. "The result is more
relevant titles that are specific to the page's content."
company also killed a signal, retiring a factor in its Image Search
related to images that contained references from multiple Web documents.
Some of the
changes involved language. For queries in languages where limited Web content
is available, Google is now translating English Web pages and displaying
translated titles below English titles in search results. Clicking on the
translated titles will take searchers to pages translated from English into the
doing this for Afrikaans, Malay, Slovak, Swahili, Hindi, Norwegian, Serbian,
Catalan, Maltese, Macedonian, Albanian, Slovenian, Welsh and Icelandic.
Google is also
providing autocomplete predictions in Russian based on length to reduce the
number of "long, sometimes arbitrary query predictions in Russian,"
something it already does for English language results.
engine also made changes in how its autocomplete feature handles queries that
contain non-Latin characters, such as Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.
Google also improved its ranking of fresh content
such as hot trends, current events or recurring events, a move that affects 35
percent of search results. The boost came months after Google's real-time
search deal with Twitter lapsed, leaving the company deprived of tweets to
surface for users.
has a 65 percent U.S. search market share, normally keeps such specific tweaks
under wraps because it views its search technology as a competitive advantage over
Microsoft Bing, Yahoo and other challengers.
also keeps its search updates quiet to keep SEO specialists and enterprising
businesses from "gaming" Google to improve their search ranking for
their own marketing designs. Cutts alluded to this in a cautionary note in his
you're a site owner, before you go wild tuning your anchor text or thinking
about your Web presence for Icelandic users, please remember that this is only
a sampling of the hundreds of changes we make to our search algorithms in a
given year, and even these changes may not work precisely as you'd
imagine," Cutts wrote. "We've decided to publish these descriptions
in part because these specific changes are less susceptible to gaming."
words, if you are a Website publisher looking to play an angle, use the
information Cutts provided at your own risk and don't expect to benefit from a
better search ranking on Google.