Google’s search quality updates in March have been available now for over one week. There has been updates, or tweaks, for example in anchor texts, image search, navigational search and indexation of profile pages.
There are few items that stand out, and we will have a look at those more closely.
Anchor text tweaks
There are two items on the list in regards to tweaks in anchor texts: tweaks to handling of anchor text and better interpretation of and use of anchor text. The first one talks about how the specific classifier has been turned off, and the second mentions a new way of determining anchor text relevance.
Word-to-word from Google’s announcement:
Tweaks to handling of anchor text: This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). 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.
Better interpretation of and use of anchor text: We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.
The both explanations are very unclear, so we have to just keep guessing what Google exactly means by these updates.
Image Search Changes
You can spot a couple of items from the list that are related to image search, more specifically to the quality of the pages on which images appear: more relevant image search results and improvement to image search relevance. The first one talks about how lower quality pages with relevant images are rewarded; the second one talks about how images on better quality pages are rewarded.
More relevant image search results: This change tunes signals we use related to landing page quality for images. This makes it more likely that you’ll find highly relevant images, even if those images are on pages that are lower quality.
Improvement to image search relevance: We’ve updated signals to better promote reasonably sized images on high-quality landing pages.
Again, sounds complicated and quite unclear how these changes should actually be interpreted.
There were few other items that raised my attention as well. These are:
Better indexing of profile pages: This change improves the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in our index from more than two-hundred social sites.
Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing: We generally ignore punctuation symbols in queries. Based on analysis of our query stream, we’ve now started to index the following heavily used symbols: “%”, “$”, “\”, “.”, “@”, “#”, and “+”. We’ll continue to index more symbols as usage warrants.
Fewer undesired synonyms: When you search on Google, we often identify other search terms that might have the same meaning as what you entered in the box (synonyms) and surface results for those terms as well when it might be helpful. This month we tweaked a classifier to prevent unhelpful synonyms from being introduced as content in the results set.
Improvements to 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.
As you can see, Google doesn’t provide us with very clear explanations regarding these updates. It is just us who need to guess how to react to these changes and how to start implementing them.
If you are interested in checking out the whole list, you can find it here.