More than 1,600 changes in the Google search in 2016

May 02/2017

Turns out, within the last year Google has been releasing all kinds of testings, updates and changes all the time without stopping. It's been over 1,600 small and big changes, almost 10,000 traffic tests and experiments, nearly 18,000 side-by-side testings and over 130,000 tests on the quality of the search results.
While everybody knows that Google is constantly doing many testings, it is still surprising when you get to know the real numbers. It concerns feature testing and color experimenting and changing, algorithms updates and ranking improvements. So when Google is saying that everything is never the same, but constantly changing, this is exactly what they mean.
Most of the changes we might not notice and we hardly even need to notice them. But it would be useful to know when Google is conducting a color experiment and when it is about the core updates in the search algorithms. Every time we focus on one recent change, Google comments that they've done tons of these within the last year. Surely it is so, although webmasters and site owners would be happy to know the percentage of the updates that affect rankings in particular.
Lately Google has revamped the how-search-works website, where the numbers of all these changes, testings, experiments and updates are indicated, although it doesn't give any specific information on the core updates, which is exactly what we would like to know.

Google doesn't always use patents and research in the ranking algorithm

April 28/2017

A couple of years ago we heard Matt Cutts from Google's office saying that the fact that they had a patent didn't mean that they were going to use it in their algorithm of live search ranking. As a matter of fact, there are reasons to believe that the biggest part of the patent material is not applied to the search ranking and it simply goes into archive. However, we shouldn't think that we cannot learn from the patents. We certainly can.
At the same time, it would be inappropriate to say that Google's search ranking algorithm does a certain action or something only because it is mentioned in the patent material. Gary Illyes commented on that issue in his Twitter account not so long ago. According to his words, the company conducts tons of research and sometimes certain things are never used for some reasons. In other words, there are things that sound great only in theory, but when it comes to practice, they just do not work, at least the way they were expected to. He also said that although he didn't know the numbers to illustrate thins situation, he still was sure that the percentage was quite high.

Googlebot doesn't get what we're saying in the podcast audio files

April 26/2017

Not so long ago the company announced the release of additional support for the rich search results for podcasts, although we shouldn't assume that now Google is capable of understanding the words uttered in the audio files. More than that, Google cannot comprehend neither separate words of your speech, nor the general meaning of what you are saying.
For example, if you have a podcast for a half of an hour, it doesn't mean that Googlebot is going to sit all the half of an hour by your side trying to figure out what you are talking about and using your words for the page ranking and indexing.
Since we all know that rich search results are markup, we need to realize that we are simply marking our podcast audio files up in order for Google to make the results of searches richer. But it in no way means that Google is able to comprehend the meaning of the content of that or another audio file.
Gary Illyes commented on this in his Twitter account in quite a brief manner, how he actually likes to comment. When he was asked if Google can know the words we say in the podcast audio files, he didn't bother much just saying “no”.
While Google is a great translation tool, it is still mistaken sometimes, especially when it comes to creative and figurative language. However, everybody should have mentioned that it gets better and more efficient step by step. Sure, it would be nice if Google was capable of understanding, parsing, indexing and ranking our podcast audio files, but there isn't such feature at the moment. But we have reasons to assume that it's going to happen in the future.

Google and the personalized search

April 25/2017

One of the unfolded issues that have been quite widely discussed not so long ago is the personalized search in Google. However, today one can hardly find it an urgent matter, even though it remains important to all of us. While some users apply search parameters for the personalization in their search results, others just do it incognito, not bothering about personalization much.
Now it would be useful to know more about it. Interestingly, what is the overall amount of the results that are actually personalized? Recently Gary Illyes from Google was asked a number of questions related to this issue in Twitter and his answer appeared to be quite predictable. According to his words, the personalized search considers such factor as the history of the search itself, but it never pays attention to the age of the user.
As a matter of fact, none of this information is brand new and we all knew that since long ago. However, the real surprise is that by now, Google hasn't done anything in particular with this issue, nor making search results more personalized, neither doing something with personal information in the organic search results. In other words, nothing has changed within years and apparently, there's nothing to expect in the nearest future.

Six users can now be distinguished by Google Home

April 21/2017

Google released a new feature that allows up to six users to get their personal results in the Google Home. To be more precise, from now on, Google will have an opportunity to recognize different voices of various users and distinguish one from another to provide them with personalized information and specific results. This feature will have to do with such content as music, personal scheduling, etc.
If you want to benefit from this update, you will have to get yourself the most recent Google Home version. Every person will have to link their account in Google and make the proper preferences setting up in the app. Everybody can find also a brief training if necessary, you only have to say twice “Okay Google” and you'll get it. And then Google will make a voice analysis to figure out the person whose voice it is. The network will just distinguish the sound of the speaking voice among all the other previously speaking and determine which one of the users is currently in front of the computer. However, this service is only available on your personal device.
According to Google's words, this feature is already released in the United States and it's going to appear in the UK in the nearest future, probably in a couple of months.

One more time about the Google Fred algorithm

April 19/2017

As we all know, in the beginning of March Google released a new great algorithm change and launched Google Fred update. This was a big and quite influencing update which has to do with the core Google search results. While some webpages that were hit by Fred faced decrease in rankings only, other pages were totally delisted, which scared webmasters and site owners a lot. Later we got to know that algorithm update was aimed at hitting only websites providing low value content with the purpose of making money without benefitting the user.
Finally, Google confirmed that the Fred update was designed exactly with the goal of hitting low content websites. However, they didn't give any tips or guidelines apart from those related to the quality issues, which confused many people in SEO community.
Some users argue that even after following many guidelines provided by Google, the only thing they achieved was the improvement in their own sites, while the rankings were the same. The impact of the great Fred update is still being discussed on forums and webmasters keep trying to find the way to make their websites more visible for the users.

Google releases featured snippet selector algorithms often

April 17/2017

It's not really a secret to anyone that the featured snippets we usually see displayed in Google are designed in such a way that they are capable of rotation between various sites from time to time. First of all it concerns queries of a more generic kind. In other words, if today you find your website coming up in Google for a featured snippet, it doesn't mean that tomorrow it will happen as well. In fact, there's a possibility that your website will not show up in Google at all next time.
This is something we didn't know earlier and we are just learning to manage it. So now it's the best time to find out and understand the strategy of featured snippets behavior for those who want their websites attract more users.
Not so long ago Gary Illyes from Google said in his Twitter account that it's not only algorithm updates that Google releases and improves all the time, announcing new versions affecting pages rankings, search results and other important matters. Like any other update, they also improve the feature snippet selectors. These selectors are in certain way specific algorithms, identifying what snippet is going to be selected and featured in Google and what not.
It's quite logical that Google determines what kind of queries will display the snippets and what level of authority should a certain site have, what kind of info content needs to be selected etc. But one thing we know for sure is that the compression part of the sentences in terms of the featured snippet selectors is affected by machine learning.

Mobile sites developers will get Google certificates

April 05/2017

Google said that mobile site developers will now get special Google partners certificates. In order to become a certificated developer, you will have to pass exam which includes answering 65 questions within an hour and a half. If you manage to give more than 85% correct answers, then Google Partner certificate is yours! Here are the possible topics included in the examination:

  • What role mobile sites optimization plays in helping customers with improvement of their bottom line.
  • Questions about technical methods of increasing the speed of mobile sites.
  • User Experience principles.
  • Methods of evaluation the speed of mobile sites and performing of User Experience.
  • Understanding the innovative technologies, including newly developed apps etc.

You can begin to study right away, since all the needed material is available on the Internet, and take the exam to get successfully certified.

Google acknowledges the new algorithm update

March 29/2017

Right after official confirmation of the release of Google Fred update, which is already known by everybody who is somehow involved into the SEO community as a great core algorithm update, Gary Illyes said that nobody in Google office has ever denied the fact that there was an update. He also said that it's obviously already happened and Google never tried to disclaim this news, at least they have never done that on purpose.
Gary Illyes also said that Google never lied for the reason that getting caught is obviously much worse than telling the truth, no matter what it is. In fact, this really can be the truth, because Google never said that there was no update when it really was. They keep silent sometimes or there are situations when they are procrastinating with the official confirmation, but they never say things that are opposite to the real facts.
However, users are not completely sure about that. The words “on purpose” are quite confusing. Some claim that it would mean that Google might have denied the update, but if it wasn't on purpose, then it should have been a mistake. To some, it may seem ridiculous how one even can make a mistake like that. Anyway, since Fred update is already officially confirmed, there's no point to be arguing on that issue.

Google Adds placement under the control

March 22/2017

Recently Google found itself in an unpleasant situation because of the appearance of their ads on various websites with aggressive, offensive, extremist and other inappropriate kind of content. This occurred mostly in the European regions. As a matter of fact, most of the advertisers pulled their ads from Youtube and Google and then came back again very quickly.
The reason why advertisers returned is because of the announcement that Google releases new techniques for advertisers to control their ads. From now on, advertisers will be able to determine on their own where to place their ads, whether they want them to show up on particular sites or not.
Google will use new tools to increase the safety of advertisers. For example, there's going to be new default for brands, which means that due to the changes in the default settings the advertisement content will be placed on the websites where brand safety will be provided at a higher level and potential threads will be excluded. Also, there's going to appear a simplified management of exclusions, allowing advertisers to avoid certain websites and channels where they don't want their ads to show up. Moreover, Google will also release new control tools to decrease or even exclude content of a high risk. On the whole, Googlers promise to keep under their control this situation and keep improving it.

Advertisers are disappointed because of the Google update

March 21/2017

Recently the mechanism of close variants working in the AdWords has been changed. Turns out, not everyone could happily meet this kind of an update and get used to the changes at once. Moreover, a lot of advertisers got upset by the way how close variants work now. Google says that in the nearest future they will expand the match of close variants even more and use also extra rewording and changing of the order for the exact keywords matching. However, that doesn't make life of advertisers any better, since this change takes away their control, instead of giving them additional control that they would like to have.
From now on function words can be ignored, changed, added according to how Google understands the request of the user to achieve a better match. In addition, it can also manipulate with the word order with the same purpose. Googlers say that there are keywords with the same or similar meaning, even in cases when the word order stays almost unchanged, which leads to the wrong search result. For this reason, to match the request, the keywords can be reordered. Some users argue that this is probably the most inappropriate update in the history of campaign management. But it's still in the process and we may face additional changes that will improve the search result in the nearest future.

No Low Quality Page Report In the Nearest Future

March 15/2017

This could have been a really great opportunity for webmasters and everyone who works with search engine optimization to look at your web-site and know instantly what pages are of a high quality and which are not and require more of your attention. However, there's a really small chance this will happen in the nearest future.
Not so long ago John Mueller, who is currently working for Google, said that they have no plans for creating such a list, where you could see all your low quality pages. The major reason for that is that they don't really see how helpful it can be for an ordinary webmaster, even if in theory this may sound good. He agrees, however, that having more information in regard to what pages Google considers to be of a high quality and what not, but he doesn't see any use of this service in general.
If to look deeper at this question, John Mueller seems to be right. The truth is, why do we need to know what pages are of low quality if we don't get the explanation of why it is so? In some cases such lists can just lead people to making wrong conclusions, which is already quite a common situation. So by looking at this list you may think that you have a problem with your web-site, which you really don't. And you may try to improve something and you start working on removing errors, but since you don't have enough information what is exactly wrong with that or another page, you can only make it worse. Let us take a deeper look at what kind of service Google offers today and who can find it useful for working with the content on the Internet.
Google Search Console is a free of charge service that allows you to see with your own eyes how your web-site is represented in Google Search and optimize it, if needed. There's no need for any registration, because your web pages are already included in the index. At the same time, this will help you figure out how Google perceives your web-site, and take proper measures for improvement of the position in search results.

Who can benefit from Google Search Console?
First of all, any site owner or an average webmaster can use this service. In fact, this service can be easily used by not only professionals, but also beginners. Here are some examples:

  • The company owner, who uses different kinds of services of specialists. Even if you will not apply the functions of the service on your own, it's good for you to earn them anyway. You can hire a webmaster or marketer to optimize your site with this service. Specialists will help you deal with al the needed reports. More than that, if you are aware of the position of your web-site in the search results, you can take better decisions on Internet marketing.
  • Specialist who works with search engine optimization. Google Search Console gives you an opportunity to monitor the traffic and optimize it, as well as the position of your web-site in search results. Every time you have to take technical solutions for operating with content, you can use data from this service. For better results, you can also use other web analytics tools, including Google Trends for market research and others.
  • Site administrator. The key task of every administrator is to ensure that the web-site operates at a high level with no errors. Luckily enough, Google Search Console makes it easy to monitor and sometimes even remove any troubles with downloads, as well as address security issues related to hacking the site and removing the core of the error. With the help of these tools you can also check whether the changes on the site or technical work on its position were made.
  • Web-site developers. If you create a markup and/or code for a site, use this free service to find and fix problems related to displaying structured data and many others.

Seems like Google has already provided us with some great service and whether there is a need to generate new ideas, which are not currently of such great necessity is still a question. What we know for sure is that developers work hard on coming up with new solutions and projects, so probably Google Search Console will get updated quite soon. And even if there wouldn't be any low quality page report, maybe there will be something more applicable for all the webmasters, who are looking forward to upcoming innovations in this area.