Google rarely if ever discusses the secrets of the inner workings of the tech giant’s search algorithms or the changes they’re constantly making to it. Today, they did. What were they, and why’d they want to talk?
On their blog, Google’s anti-spam lead, Matt Cutts, breaks the tweaks down. There are ten changes, but the serious tweaks to the way you’ll be searching content are, inm short:
- They retired a “signal” in Google Image searches that “had references from multiple documents on the web.”
- They’ve stripped or “de-duplicated” searches with doubled-up anchor text.
- They’ve enhanced the value of fresh, newer content over older content that will affect, according to their calculations, around 35% of all searches (though only “6-10%” of all searches will be affected to a “noticeable degree”).
- They’ve refined the way searches turn up “official” content; in other words, a search for Foo Fighters is less likely to pick up their Wikipedia page than the page the band and/or record label owns.
- They’ve tweaked and improve searches by date-ranges; hopefully, this means that re-published content from long ago will finally fall further back and maybe even be filtered out of Last Week/Last Month searches.
There are other tweaks—like enhancing searches to pump up result value for cross-language web content—but Google was careful to warn SEO “experts” not to start picking up whatever Icelandic they can. No, really, because you know someone read that and immediately started looking to BitTorrent some Rosetta Stone tapes:
If you’re a site owner, before you go wild tuning your anchor text or thinking about your web presence for Icelandic users, please remember that this is only a sampling of the hundreds of changes we make to our search algorithms in a given year, and even these changes may not work precisely as you’d imagine.
So why the transparency? Well….
We’ve decided to publish these descriptions in part because these specific changes are less susceptible to gaming.
For the New York Times‘ Bits blog, Claire Cain Miller breaks down some of the context helpful to understanding the announcement:
There is also another reason that Google is shedding some light on the black box of its algorithm. It is under fire from government regulators who are investigating it for antitrust violations. One of their main concerns is how little Google reveals about how search works, even though changes in the algorithm can drastically affect Web businesses.
Not that this will have much if any kind of effect in deterring:
1. Government investigations into Google’s antitrust violations. Because a company as big and as powerful as Google should probably be investigated for antitrust violations on principle.
2. SEO “experts” who think they know what’s inside the black box of Google enough to sell their wisdom on otherwise helpless business owners who wouldn’t know metadata from metaphysics (which, often, might as well be the same thing).
But, you know, on both fronts: Vaya con dios. In the mean time, hopefully this will push down any of my search results from, like, Mediaite or whoever. I’ve got another Flavors.Me page to build.