Google Search Tweaked to Punt Parked Domains

Google Dec. 1 introduced 10 more search algorithm changes and pledged to do so once a month in the name of providing more transparency into its search practices.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Dec. 1 introduced 10 more search algorithm adjustments and will publish a list of such improvements every month to share more information about its underlying mechanics.

The new upgrades include better indexing for long-tail documents, more autocomplete suggestions and a detection classifier for sniffing out parked domains, or placeholder sites loaded with ads to trick people to click on them. Google said it prefers not to show them because they often lack useful content.

Google refined related query results for queries that are similar to the actual search a user enters. Essentially, the change makes it less likely that such results will rank highly if the original query had a rare word that was dropped in the alternate query.

Also, Google now offers fresher blog search results; new signals to locate original content; live scores and schedules for Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League: fresher image search results; better layout on tablet computers such as Apple's iPad or Android slates; and a rewriting of the code that determines top selections.

This code handles extra processing on the top set of results to ensure Google doesn't show too many results from one site, also known as "host crowding." Search Engine Land has more details on the changes.

The latest batch of improvements follow a previous round of 10 changes Google reported Nov. 14.

Those upgrades increased page content and decreased header and menu content for its search snippets; extended rich snippets for applications; improved the way Google search hunts for and finds "official" Web pages; and changed how Google handles result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a specific date range.

In reality, Google makes some 500 improvements to search each year, though it has typically closely guarded those changes. Why divulge some of those alterations now after spending years keeping them hush, hush?

A major reason is that 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. The European Commission is also scrutinizing Google.

Going forward, Google will announce the search changes in a monthly post on its Inside Search blog.

"We know people care about how search works, so we always want to push the envelope when it comes to transparency," Google Engineering Director Scott Huffman wrote in a blog post.

"We added it up, and to date we've published almost 1,000 blog posts about search, more than 400 webmaster videos and thousands of forum posts." With this blog series, we'll be highlighting many of the subtler algorithmic and visible feature changes we make."

Huffman said Google is preparing the next batch for disclosure in early January.