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Google's December Search Quality Highlights

     
5:32 pm on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google's December Search Quality Highlights [insidesearch.blogspot.com]
Today we’re continuing our monthly series with details about many of the improvements we make to search. For the month of December, you’ll find a list of 30 search improvements, 9 of which we’ve blogged about previously. In addition, to have a little fun we’re including a sampling of codenames along with the list.

Codenames make changes easier to talk about and remember, and they can also be a lot of fun. You might remember “Panda” and “Caffeine,” but you probably don’t remember last month’s “Top result selection code rewrite.” That’s why many of the search quality improvements we make have internal codenames.



Get the full list for December here. [insidesearch.blogspot.com]
2:28 am on Jan 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I noticed Google was tuning up their Autocomplete Suggestions:

Better infrastructure for autocomplete. This is an infrastructure change to improve how our autocomplete algorithm handles spelling corrections for query prefixes (the beginning part of a search)

I've been focusing some research on autocomplete lately, because that's one place that affects traffic volume even if a page's ranking doesn't change. If the autocomplete handling DOES change, the traffic can go up or down by a good bit.

In this case their talking about how they handle typos early in the search query. That hasn't been part of what I study before - but it will be now.
11:50 pm on Jan 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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While many of the "quality highlights" they list sound like genuine improvements geared towards either optimizing Google's resources, or improving user experience, but ones like:

Live results for NFL and college football. [project codename “Live Results”] We’ve added new live results for NFL.com and ESPN’s NCAA Football results. These results now provide the latest scores, schedules and standings for your favorite football teams.


and:

Upcoming events at venues. We've improved the recently released places panel for event venues. For major venues, we now show up to three upcoming events on the right of the page. Try it for [staples center los angeles] or [paradise rock club boston].


are, in my opinion crossing the line from "search engine" to content scraping.

Unless these entities are producing symantic data and open source API calls that anyone could use to collect and publish the same data, Google is scraping and creating even more of monopoly on web content.

...Own a website that lists events in Boston?

...Running a sports site with scores?

...sorry, a number of users will no longer visit your site, they'll just get the info from Google.
8:16 am on Jan 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure how Google scrapes results like those, I assume the sites have Rich Snippets markup which make it so simple for Google to do. I've seen the same thing for my local football club website and yes, sometimes I've seen the result in Google (scraped from the website) and didn't go to the official site.

However Google has scraped the information, I can't understand how stupid these clubs are to provide the information on their websites in a manner which allows Google to scrape it so easily. There must be many different ways to make it very difficult for Google to scrape the results - php for one can make it very difficult.

To some degree it's the responsibility of website owners to code and design their sites in a manner which prevents Google from doing this.

I have Rich Snippets on a couple of my sites and I'm happy with Google scraping that information because it enhances my entry in the SERPS. But the minute they begin to scrape too much information I would simply remove it to elsewhere or make it unreliable enough for Google to stop scraping.
1:26 pm on Jan 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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i got a few emails from google last year about my rich snippets. i include a load of upcoming events on my site, and they wanted to help me "take advantage" of their new layout for events sites.

the layout is actually quite good. i get 3 events listed directly under each title, complete with the date and location of the event. so thats 4 blue links for me, when everyone else only gets one.

but this is obviously the downside... they are mashing the info up for use on their own place pages.
i dont mind that so much. but its not going to stop at that, is it. sooner or later they will start placing their own events info directly above the serps (like they currently do for cinema listings), and that doesnt seem very fair to me.
11:43 pm on Jan 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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But the minute they begin to scrape too much information I would simply remove it to elsewhere or make it unreliable enough for Google to stop scraping.

-nomis5

The idea that you need to revise your site and move things once Google finds them is like paying to stay in a hotel so someone can rob your house.

I have seen some sites resort to encoding text as a graphic image so it can't be scraped.

but its not going to stop at that, is it.

-londrum

Nope.

And I don't want to become an unpaid editor for Google more than I already am.

For one of my sites I spend a lot of time collecting and editing event info. I post events from theatres, bars & nightclubs, museums, schools, churches, non-profit/fundraisers, etc (for a single geographic location). I complete the listings with full address, phone, email, web links, etc -- (e.g.- if a bar has a band playing, their website might just read "The Examples 9pm, Tuesday"... I'll look up "The Examples" and find out what type of band they are, e.g. "Top 40 Classic Rock from the 70s, 80's and 90s".. get ticket/cover price info, etc, etc)..
 

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