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Google Announces 40 New Algorithm Changes For February

   
5:36 am on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



[insidesearch.blogspot.com...]


This is the one that worries me most:

Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.
6:23 am on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Sounds like this one might speed things up for some people...
Panda update. This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.
6:44 am on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



More coverage for related searches. [launch codename "Fuzhou"]


Change a few characters in "Fuzhou" and you know what you get - FU. Just sayin' ;)

Marshall
8:27 am on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



More accurate detection of official pages. [launch codename “WRE”] We’ve made an adjustment to how we detect official pages to make more accurate identifications. The result is that many pages that were previously misidentified as official will no longer be.

I note that they did not define official pages.
8:31 am on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



It all comes back to one thing. Create web-sites for users, not for Google. (Blasphemy, I know).

Trying to SEO a site, especially a larger one, to suit Google's latest algo changes becomes a full time job, and still has no guarantee of working short-term or especially longer-term, since content from competing sites play in as well.

If you have a large number of pages, and change the structure, titles, links, to fit Google's latest algorithm or opinions on how they would like to present our content on their site, by the time your pages have been refreshed, the "rules" will have changed again, or Google will have entered a new business area that shows up prioritized on search pages.
12:32 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.


Anybody have the slightest idea of what this might be? Could it be that anchor test is no longer being used or that the value of backlinks is being completely phased out by Google?

I honestly can't think of much they could do to 'turn off' something that they've been doing for many years which involves link analysis. I have a weird feeling that anchor text has been abused so much, that they may have just decided to throw the towel in on that. It's probably too early to tell, but a quick search of many sites I know which rely on unnatural inbound anchor text says this is not the case.

Update to the Google bar. [project codename “Kennedy”] We continue to iterate in our efforts to deliver a beautifully simple experience across Google products, and as part of that this month we made further adjustments to the Google bar. The biggest change is that we’ve replaced the drop-down Google menu in the November redesign with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page.


I found the "Google bar" was ugly and completely contrary to a 'simplified experience' so it is nice to see Google going back to the roots, at least in a UI sense. The drop-down menu was clunky and reminded me of a retro Microsoft web site when they had IE-only DHTML menus *lol*
1:41 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



I am playing Google games for very long now, Generally what Google publish is all useless stuff, So better ignore them.
1:55 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



all that work, and still no improvements to search quality. Abandoned blogs and member profiles proliferate in the financial serps, up to page 2 now whereas they were page 4 and higher a few months ago. Quite sad.
1:55 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



I doubt anchor text is the signal removed, their Algorithm relies on that factor a lot, I would expect something like italics, bolds, linking from headings, thinks like that, a minor factor that became useless nowadays and would impact the typical 1-2% of queries. Removing anchor text factor would probably affect every keyword with 3+ words in it, and lots of 3- ones.
1:56 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.


I have read in other forums that some have been complaining about this. They were talking about their usual way of creating backlinks. I don't think backlinks are phased out but most likely G is looking at quality and how these backlinks are created aka spinned content, link wheels. If you have not seen changes regarding this you are probably not affected.
2:02 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



When Google says it is "turning off a method of link analysis" it means they are turning off one part of their massive link analysis formula. It does not mean links are no longer a significant ingredient in the ranking formula.

One specific example of Google devaluing a method of link analysis is how they have been decreasing the importance of PageRank. Ten years ago a PR8 link hidden in a footer from an off-topic site could boost you to number one. That is no longer the case. Today, blindly chasing links based solely on toolbar PageRank does not work very well. Now Google tends to reward much more greatly the links that are coming from very relevant websites and driving traffic.
2:22 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



Rockyou said:
I am playing Google games for very long now, Generally what Google publish is all useless stuff, So better ignore them.

I am right there with you. Playing the Google-two-step dance is rarely a good long-term solution. It merely helps keeping SEO consultants busy getting fees for "fixing" up web-sites to follow yet another imaginary trend.

I have learned to believe in the simple approach. Making sure that your pages have good and relevant titles and meta description, and anchor texts that are relevant and correct to where they actually lead, and a few other obvious things.

Many or most of Google's changes over are made to catch and devalue people/sites that play the system with bad information to get on top. A way to clean up Google's search prioritizations to get the scum to fall to the bottom. Not to give web-site owners and SEO consultants yet another thrilling short-term chase to follow to put themselves on top of SERPS. Better that time and money be spent on creating new, better content.

As of late, Google have not been that successful at it, given that there seem to be more and more scum floating at the top. :)
So I expect many more algorithmic changes to come. To be discussed by many as new "opportunities" I am sure. :)
2:40 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Here's Bill Slawski's classic post on characteristics of links.

Still pertinent after all this time...

[seobythesea.com...]
2:40 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Many or most of Google's changes over are made to catch and devalue people/sites that play the system with bad information to get on top.

I don't see it that way. Sure Google does this kind of thing, but a major part of their effort goes to understanding how to serve the average user. The spam fighting component is a necessary evil, but it's nowhere near their core focus.
2:50 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



@Shatner - Interesting interpretation on link evaulation from Dave Naylor [davidnaylor.co.uk...]
3:03 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



tedster said:
understanding how to serve the average user

That I agree with.. Throw out the scum (since its costs Google money by driving away users), and then the rest of the algorithm to assure the basic relevancy to the user to further assure they come back.

But I still believe that chasing the latest Google fad is from a long-term point of view a waste. If Google's main idea is how to "serve the average user", then we are back to the basics again. Making sure that a web-site's pages really serve that average user. If that is the case, then by your own notion, Google will figure it out and pages will do well. Playing games with the latest theory of what might be in certain version of the Google algorithm might give a short-term boost, but could also be costly long-term. (Not talking about the SEO fees here.)
3:49 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



You know guys, tis easiest to agree when the wind is blowing your way
4:08 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



February is not over. There's hasn't been enough time to find out how these changes will affect sites in general. Some of this speculation might be a tad premature.
4:14 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bwnbwn is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



Looks like Sunday there was an upload/tweek/something happened. Traffic on a couple sites jumped 40%. Nothing has been done to them and this type of jump is not normal especially on a weekend day. Weekends usually slowest this one beat all days and Monday was very close to Sunday.
4:19 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Sunday may well have been the latest Panda update - several sites who've been working hard on Panda issues reported improved rankings on Sunday.
4:59 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



In regards to link evaluation...

I would speculate that it is directly related to PageRank or how it is passed from site to site. For a long time Google has been telling us that PageRank is a less important factor in how important a link is. So much so that they removed it from their Webmaster Tools interface two and a half years ago.

Google is always tooling with how PageRank is used. An example is in 2009 when Matt Cutts announced that nofollow links had been consuming PageRank, even though the PageRank was not being passed to the linked site. This effectively put the kibosh on simple PageRank sculpting.

Additionally, social sharing is done primarily with nofollow links. Social media is quickly becoming a more significant factor in how sites are ranked and indexed. It's logical to me that a new way of determining a page's authority, and passing that authority between pages and domains, is necessary to accurately determine the true value of a link.

[edited by: Trypnotik at 5:18 pm (utc) on Feb 28, 2012]

5:15 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Welcome to the forums, Trypnotik - good observations.

I was also thinking that this link change may have to do with allowing the surrounding text and even the title of the linking page affect their understanding of the topic for the target page. This seemed like a potential source of noise and error, as far as I'm concerned. With all the evolution in their on-page processing, they might well have decided that this part of the algo just wasn't helpful anymore - they already had the topic pretty well nailed from more direct signals.
10:34 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



February is not over.

Odd, I was thinking the opposite. Are they saying "Neener-neener, we did all this stuff four weeks ago and nobody noticed?" Or are they saying "The world as you know it will turn upside-down tomorrow"?

:: still waiting for them to make the change every idiot would think of first thing: make that ### black bar individually customizable so it displays the things you personally use most often ::
10:41 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



Change a few characters in "Fuzhou" and you know what you get - FU. Just sayin' ;)


You can cahnge the odrer of letetrs wihtin wodrs and stlil undretsand the menaing as lnog as the fisrt and lsat letrets are corerct.

In this case the first and last letters are indeed F and U. ;)

As for the update - it's already rolled out, who saw changes they can attribute to anything in that post?

My contribution - this explains why I saw links to affiliate sites result in seriously lowered rankings for those pages on or about Feb 6th. Time to re-evaluate how you link to affiliate sites.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 10:43 pm (utc) on Feb 28, 2012]

10:43 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I'm going with the report of "things changed in February" which suggests to me that end of March we might have some historical data upon which further speculation might be generated. That said, I've always built sites for users, not search engines.

Page Rank was the one thing G invented that actually made sense for growing the web, commerce, and authority... and was the first that was scammed/trashed. A bright idea with no controls to prevent abuse. Some of these new changes seem (to me) an attempt to make PR actually work again, but baby steps with hard rules attached. Might make a difference if that balance can be achieved.
10:45 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



Also - Google is saying very little you can ACT upon but since they announced changes they will now be monitoring sites like WW to see if anyone is figuring them out. Cat and mouse - GO!
10:56 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



Improvements to foreign language synonyms. [launch codename “floating context synonyms”, project codename “Synonyms”] This change applies an improvement we previously launched for English to all other languages. The net impact is that you’ll more often find relevant pages that include synonyms for your query terms.


That ones not altogether a small change. It might be a reason why exact match results are not returned as often. e.g. The top 10 results may only include one exact match, one source, one official, one video, one image and the rest synonym results. Something to think about when attempting to name an article, see what's already taken first.
11:13 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



several sites who've been working hard on Panda issues reported improved rankings on Sunday

Are we looking at a roll out of several days, maybe a week or just this. My hunch is that this is just US/.com and the roll out internationally takes a little longer.

Not sure where @Marketing_Guy 's website is based - but he appears to have been the earliest.

I've not seen any reports, of comebacks after Sunday. It's pretty thin out there - again much more inputs are needed.
4:19 am on Feb 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I note that they did not define official pages.


My thoughts exactly.
8:56 am on Feb 29, 2012 (gmt 0)



Odd, I was thinking the opposite. Are they saying "Neener-neener, we did all this stuff four weeks ago and nobody noticed?"

One of my sites did a lot of bouncing around in the first page before settling in the best position for 2 years around 2 weeks ago. It had corrosponded with some link building, so I presumed it was was this.

My thoughts as to what they have changed, although this may already have been changed, and I could be behind times, I am sure someone will soon say :) could it be where the link is hosted eg. a link for a UK site from a site hosted in the US is now counted the same as hosted in your own country. Most people go with the cheapest host they can find rather than where it is hosted.
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