2,000 Down and Counting

By April 5, 2012 News

So if you haven’t heard by now, Yahoo is still free-falling to its doom. This downward spiral has reached a new height although as Yahoo executes upon a massive 2,000 employee layoff in order to cut costs, all while defending itself from a counter lawsuit courtesy of Facebook. Profits have declined year-to-year and the end seems to be in sight for this once-popular search company.

For a long time now, Google has retained its position as the search engine giant, owning 66 percent of the search engine market (according to searchengineland.com), but at one point Yahoo was a search leviathan as well – remember those old commercials that monopolized your Zenith television? Today, the unfortunate reality for Yahoo is that Google is king and Bing is cannibalizing their share of the market.

While Yahoo has been trying to figure out how to salvage their future and delay the inevitable, Google has been making a myriad of changes to their search algorithm over the past couple of months. In February, Google made 40 changes, including a panda update. In March, Google made 50 additional tweaks to their algorithm including another panda update in order to refresh their system.

Google’s Changes in February

  • More coverage for related searches
  • Tweak to categorizer for expanded sitelinks
  • Less duplication in expanded sitelinks
  • More consistent thumbnail sizes on results page
  • More locally relevant predictions in YouTube
  • More accurate detection of official pages
  • Refreshed per-URL country information
  • Expand the size of our images index in Universal SearchMinor tuning of autocomplete policy algorithms
  • “Site:” query update
  • Improved detection for SafeSearch in Image Search
  • Interval based history tracking for indexing
  • Improvements to foreign language synonyms
  • Disabling two old fresh query classifiers
  • More organized search results for Google Korea
  • Fresher images
  • Update to the Google bar
  • Adding three new languages to classifier related to error pages
  • Improvements to travel-related searches
  • Data refresh for related searches signal
  • International launch of shopping rich snippets
  • Improvements to Korean spelling
  • Improvements to freshness
  • Web History in 20 new countries
  • Improved snippets for video channels
  • Improvements to ranking for local search results
  • Improvements to English spell correction
  • Improvements to coverage of News Universal
  • Consolidation of signals for spiking topics
  • Better triggering for Turkish weather search feature
  • Visual refresh to account settings page
  • Panda update – since there are still offline components of Panda, it is “refreshed” on a regular basis.
  • Link evaluation
  • SafeSearch update
  • Spam update
  • Improved local results

Google’s Changine in March

  • Autocomplete with math symbolsM
  • Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing – indexing updates have been made to value the following symbols: %, $, , ., @, #, and + .
  • Better scoring of news groupings
  • Sitelinks data refresh
  • Improvements to autocomplete backends, coverage
  • Better handling of password changes
  • Better indexing of profile pages – Google’s indexing will be improved for more than 200 social sites.
  • UI refresh for News Universal
  • Improvements to results for navigational queries
  • High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements – related to tweaks made to Panda.
  • Live results for UEFA Champions League and KHL
  • Tennis search feature
  • More relevant image search results
  • Fresher image predictions in all languages
  • SafeSearch algorithm tuning
  • Tweaks to handling of anchor text – Google will be releasing an “over-optimization” penalty in the future, which means that search engine optimization is shifting from purely SEO to online marketing management – the combination of social, website and “pulled-punch” search engine optimization.
  • Simplification to Images Universal codebase
  • Better application ranking and UI on mobile
  • Improvements to freshness in Video Universal
  • Fewer undesired synonyms
  • Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent – all indicators point to the fact that Google is emphasizing local and social within their search results.
  • Improvements to freshness – related to Panda.
  • Improvements to processing for detection of site quality
  • Better interpretation and use of anchor text
  • Better local results and sources in Google News
  • Deprecating signal related to ranking in a news cluster
  • Fewer “sibling” synonyms
  • Better synonym accuracy and performance
  • Retrieval system tuning
  • Less aggressive synonyms
  • Update to systems relying on geographic data
  • Improvements to name detection
  • Updates to personalization signals
  • Improvements to Image Search relevance
  • Remove deprecated signal from site relevance signals
  • More precise detection of old pages
  • Tweaks to language detection in autocomplete
  • Improvements in date detection for blog/forum pages
  • More predictions in autocomplete by live rewriting of query prefixes
  • Expanded sitelinks on mobile
  • More accurate short answers – just a short while ago, Google teamed up with Freebase (an informational/research service created by Metaweb) to improve upon their search results. The entire premise of Freebase is entity focused. What does this mean? Information is gathered and organized in a manner that is structured and independent of billions of keyword searches. Rather, entities are conglomerations of various businesses, products, services, people and more that share the same genre or criteria. It is logical to believe that this means Google is either aiming to stray away from keyword searches or more likely just use the research created by Freebase to bolster their search algorithm.
  • Migration of video advanced search backends
  • +1 button in search for more countries and domains
  • Local result UI refresh on tablet

If you read through all of those, you would have come to one conclusion – “gee whiz!” Google is making a ton of updates each month, many of which I have no clue how they will affect my site! Well, did you happen to notice that the word “fresh” was referred to 13 times within those two lists? In the past, Google hasn’t done a terrific job of achieving their goal of fresh, quality content. But, at some point you would imagine they’ll get it right. When they do, what happens to St. Louis SEO companies? What do they become? Will search engine optimization ever become irrelevant? Will PPC become even more important?

Questions like this are hard to answer, but they are important nonetheless. All-in-all, taking the time to adapt to tech trends, search engines and upcoming online resources will separate basic SEO firms from successful full-service internet marketing firms like Clix.

“Adapt or die”…just ask Yahoo.

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