Google once again released a roundup of search-quality changes that were made in March 2012.
On the heels of its recent Panda update which occured in mid-March, many of the changes relate to the overall freshness of the indexes (including the search, image and video indices), but there are many other improvements that could directly influence how websites are ranked and in what manner.
We've highlighted only a few (the full list is here) that we believe are those most important to search engine optimization.
The most interesting development, or at least the change that will spark the most speculation, is related to how Google handles anchor text. Google indicated that it "tweaked" how it handles anchor text, improving the systems it uses to interpret and use anchor text to determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website. If there's one change from the list of 50 to watch and perhaps even test, I would suggest that it's anchor text.
Here are a few other changes that caught our attention:
Deep Maroon: Improvements in how Google handles symbols have been made and has started to index symbols such as “%”, “$”, “\”, “.”, “@”, “#”, and “+”.
Saralee_76: Google updated the data used for sitelinks -- those links that appear beneath search results and link deeper into the respective site.
Prof_2: Google indicated that it has made a change that expands the number of social profile sources in its index to more than 200.
Iceman75: Navigational queries have been another subject for improvement in this round of updates. These queries are those in which a user aims to navigate to a particular website.
ShieldsUp: Google made an improvement to how it handles queries with both navigational and local intent. One recent change improves the balance of results shown.