How Do Google’s Latest Search Updates Affect SEO?
Google have released their monthly search quality highlights, with 50 changes being made in March. These provide the industry with excellent insights into what Google are focussing their attention on, and what changes they will make to the way their search engines work. Whilst this is great news for those of us working in SEO, their blog posts do make it a little difficult to decode the message in terms of what we should be striving for. In any event that’s exactly what this post will try and do.
The following updates are in no particular order, so there’s no preference or importance placed on one over the others. Of course, there will be updates that do mean a lot more to some than others, but rest assured, if you’re reading this from an SEO perspective, they’ll all be relevant in their own ways.
Indexing of More symbols
They’ve finally announced they are no longer going to ignore symbols within search queries. It was always unknown as to whether including a symbol would actually get indexed, but Google have announced that the following heavily used symbols will now start to get indexed:
%, $, \, ., @, #, and +
For anyone that uses symbols within the company or brand name, or even use them frequently throughout content, this update means that your site, page or content won’t miss out when it comes to rankings.
We all know that Google favour brands, and this is reflective of the recent mega sitelinks that they implemented. Well they’ve announced they will update the way these will get analysed and determined. It’s an offline process that analyses site structure as well as other data to determine relevant links to show users. Excellent news for companies and businesses that have got their branding in order, they’ll be rewarded with more relevant sitelinks as a result.
There were a couple of updates regarding the queries that searchers use to navigate to a webpage. The first focuses on users who search for a website within Google, for example Wikipedia.org. The update has been made to improve the search results, especially for those who want the website, but don’t know what they actual domain is.
The second navigational query update concerns those with local intent. Some queries are made towards a specific website, but one that is location orientated. Google have updated the balance of the results so that navigational and local results are more relevant and higher up the page as a result.
Last, but by no means least is probably one of the most important updates, the use of anchor text. There are two updates, which actually seem to contradict one another, but nevertheless, are still necessary to mention. The first concerns tweaks made towards the handling of anchor text, where a specific classifier had been turned off. In their words, “Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.”
The second update to anchor text concerns a better interpretation of the anchor text, where Google have improved their system to determine the relevancy of a specific anchor text in relation to a specific query and website. In short it appears that creating links with anchor text is something that we need to keep a close eye on, where we need to ensure the term we are using and the page we are linking to are relevant; and that we shouldn’t overdo the amount of anchor text links we use.
There are many more updates to keep up-to-date with, which can all be found on Google’s Inside Search blog. What did you make of the updates? These are always open to discussion so feel free to share your thoughts below.