Google search quality improvements for March

Google’s official search blog has announced a grand total of forty algorithm changes that either came about during February or are scheduled for March 2012. 

Overall, Google says that “Each individual change is subtle and important, and over time they add up to a radically improved search engine”. Great stuff.  But what do the latest changes mean for searchers? And what about website owners?

Spring 2012 Google algorithm updates

Here’s a quick ‘n’ dirty look at a few of the adjustments most likely to affect British Google users and Google search quality:

  • You’ll notice more locally-relevant predictions in YouTube based on your location. There’s a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably, so Google can detect when queries and documents are local to the user. Updated country associations for urls deliver greater accuracy. And there have been improvements to local search results
  • Consistent sized thumbnails on the results page makes for a better visual experience. New images will be delivered faster and there’s improved detection for ‘safe image search’
  • The disabling of two old classifiers relating to ‘query freshness’ means freshness is more important than ever. New signals have been applied to help Google ‘surface’ fresh content even faster. The latest generation Panda update makes the search engine more accurate and sensitive to recent changes. And because Google has consolidated some of the signals it uses to detect when a new topic is trending, they can compute in real time… as if you needed another excuse for creating fresh, unique content!
  • Shopping-rich snippets have been launched globally for the first time, to help searchers identify which sites are likely to have the most relevant product, highlighting product prices, availability, ratings and the number of reviews
  • The way Google evaluates links has changed. They’re switching off their old link analysis system and ‘re-architecting’ it

Notice any patterns?

Here’s what appears to be important in Google’s eyes right now:

  • Freshness
  • Relevance
  • Local-ness
  • Uniqueness

No surprises there, then!