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Google Announces Algo Changes for March 2012



7:44 pm on Apr 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Google announced 50 changes for March.


  1. Autocomplete with math symbols.
  2. Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing.
  3. Better scoring of news groupings.
  4. Sitelinks data refresh.
  5. Improvements to autocomplete backends, coverage.
  6. Better handling of password changes.
  7. Better indexing of profile pages.
  8. UI refresh for News Universal.
  9. Improvements to results for navigational queries.
  10. High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements.
  11. Live results for UEFA Champions League and KHL.
  12. Tennis search feature.
  13. More relevant image search results.
  14. Fresher image predictions in all languages.
  15. SafeSearch algorithm tuning.
  16. Tweaks to handling of anchor text.
  17. Simplification to Images Universal codebase.
  18. Better application ranking and UI on mobile.
  19. Improvements to freshness in Video Universal.
  20. Fewer undesired synonyms.
  21. Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent.
  22. Improvements to freshness.
  23. Improvements to processing for detection of site quality.
  24. Better interpretation and use of anchor text.
  25. Better local results and sources in Google News.
  26. Deprecating signal related to ranking in a news cluster.
  27. Fewer “sibling” synonyms.
  28. Better synonym accuracy and performance.
  29. Retrieval system tuning.
  30. Less aggressive synonyms.
  31. Update to systems relying on geographic data.
  32. Improvements to name detection.
  33. Updates to personalization signals.
  34. Improvements to Image Search relevance.
  35. Remove deprecated signal from site relevance signals.
  36. More precise detection of old pages.
  37. Tweaks to language detection in autocomplete.
  38. Improvements in date detection for blog/forum pages.
  39. More predictions in autocomplete by live rewriting of query prefixes.
  40. Expanded sitelinks on mobile.
  41. More accurate short answers.
  42. Migration of video advanced search backends.
  43. +1 button in search for more countries and domains.
  44. Local result UI refresh on tablet.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 8:02 pm (utc) on Apr 3, 2012]

[edited by: tedster at 1:30 am (utc) on Apr 5, 2012]
[edit reason] added links - split thread [/edit]


5:28 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Had a top term just go from page 5 to page 44....but a top national newspaper uses my pages for pieces, rewrites it a bit into less content and then gives me resource link at the bottom. They rank on page one (with several moderately deceptive Adsense blocks on the pages) and I get a couple referrals a day from them!...Glad I could help everyone else with my content while I sit in a basement closet hoping for toaster crumbs to fall through the floorboards.


5:30 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Our ecomm site has traffic WAY DOWN. Yesterday was fine/normal, today... bleh. Just when I was thinking that we were recovering from the initial Panda hit.

On average days we would have around 20k visitors by noon. But today we're at 4k at noon.

I should note that we are totally white hat and have little time to do SEO or over SEO anything. With that said over the last year we have spent considerable time adding more content to each product to "beef up" content for customers, but it's all written by our techs and/or the manufacturer for us. There's no SEO involved in the content at all.


6:35 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Huge increase in traffic all week but it carried in all search engines so somewhere on the web our business got traction on a social site or blog.

Watching visitors coming in on keywords we dont rank in the top 20 on which means personalization is coming into play heavily now.


7:20 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

scottsonline, do you have G+ linked to your site or I should ask what kind of social network do you have attached to your blog/social site - f, t, i, g+ ?


8:31 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Mslina we have all of those but they aren't that active. Big execs making big purchasing decisions aren't prone to tweet and most don't use Facebook. People do add us fairly aggressively on their own but there are no big spikes.

A business friend that was doing upwards of 20 sales a day a few weeks ago hasn't had one since Saturday. Does that mean google made a change or is this just a slow holiday week? I'm not sure.

How is everyone else doing this past 24 hours? What are you seeing in the serps?

My take is we are seeing big movements in personalized results. If the right person makes the right mention traffic spikes for a few days. Goofy really. Pay to stream is what's next.


9:03 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

I'm good. Clients are good. Up a little.


9:06 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One interesting aspect, to stir the pot, is people begin reporting in late March and early April the loss of search box functionality in Google. In other words they are now being forced to type in any search or turn to Google Instant. Now this may seem like an old issue to some but people are beginning to complain and quickly turning to Bing to restore that ease of use. Google needs to fix that pronto.

Incidentally people begin reporting on the mentioned problem Friday March 31st. I wonder how widespread it is?

Other than that I’m seeing some large fluctuations particularly on Google Search partners.


10:36 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm seeing particularly favourable SERP increases across the board today for a number of my sites. Still seems like Panda flux though (i.e. not terribly stable).


10:43 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Gypo which county are you in? Ecom?

Has anyone considered this is what google wanted? Totally unpredictable results? We see people coming to the site these last few days on terms we don't rank on. To me that means a lot of this must be personalization. And if we take it further even if google tells the truth that a fraction of our users are logged in that can still mean hundreds or thousands of additional visitors each day.


1:04 am on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ecom site here. I'm see huge fluctuations in ranking. We'll move up/down 2-80 spots in certain serps. Ranking changes have come 1-2 times a day. Unpredictable is putting it mildly.


2:14 am on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Improvements to freshness. [launch codename "Abacus", project codename "Freshness"] We launched an improvement to freshness late last year that was very helpful, but it cost significant machine resources. At the time we decided to roll out the change only for news-related traffic. This month we rolled it out for all queries.

Evergreen content begone? I don't see that as ensuring the best is always returned because some things don't change(and don't need updating).


3:52 am on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Makes sense. I guess that goes along with what I've been seeing for a few weeks now with all the blogs popping up in the SERPs. It's funny when some of the blogs are just stealing content and ranking ahead of everyone else.


6:15 am on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

garyr_h I agree with you about the SERPs. A lot of scrapped content and worthless affiliate blogs are ranking for medium to high-end keywords with junk populating the top spots. What I am seeing is inferior websites ranking well. For instance some of the English language usage on those sites just plain sucks and could be spun content!

I really think this might be a shake-up (or shake-down). As I stated in my previous post on page 1 of this "continuation" thread I believe this may be something to do with the over-optimization penalty Matt Cutts referred to.

Look at the top results for your keywords. Review their backlink profile in Open Site Explorer and I think you may find they are very heavy on spam blog comments.

I don't understand why no-one thinks this is an important enough point to take 5 minutes to check it out!


9:54 am on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I wish I could post some of the results I'm getting for certain searches. I honestly believe I could do a better job of building a search engine myself the way Google is working at the moment.

Not only are the majority of the results irrelevant, thin, scraped content they are also (in a lot of cases) the downright opposite of what I'm searching for!

Surely things can't stay like this for much longer.


10:20 am on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Utter garbage, all I am seeing is utter garbage, I have sites that are going completely in and out of the .com results on a refresh...it's a juvenille game of hide and seek for these knob twiddlers!


12:16 pm on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Very few of these March changes seem to be about organic search ranking. Images, News, logging in, personal profiles, navigational queries (at least we're getting close there) etc, etc. I'm not sure whether this indicates what they feel is important, or rather just a list of everything that they worked on, regardless of emphasis or resources devoted.


12:27 pm on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

tedster, agreed excepting the anchor text. just a hunch, but i think it was the metric that drove the march 10th update.


12:37 pm on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

synonyms too.

Whatever "they" did - they screwed up big time.

The worst SERPs that I've ever seen.

Are they going to leave it like this?


10:43 pm on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Moderator's Note: I moved 13 messages to the April Updates thread [webmasterworld.com] which is now open again.

This present thread is focused on the 50 announced changes for March 2012 - Current observations and analysis is the focus for the other thread. - tedster
This 49 message thread spans 2 pages: 49

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