Google has released another (very) big list of search quality changes (86 in
total) that took place in June and July of 2012. Instead of detailing each and
every one of the changes (which can be cumbersome and, well, boring), let's try
and decode the list and see what is in store for SEO's in the coming months (and
probably years) by identifying a few (four actually) key trends.
A relevant side note; Google is no longer using individual code names,
opting instead for project codenames which does provide some insights into the
major shifts the Google search quality team is spearheading. That actually makes
it much easier to understand the more substantial trends in the search marketing
industry, so thanks Google!
Page Quality: Google has never been unclear on the role that
page quality plays in results ranking, and the list of recently released changes
for June and July certainly confirms that focus. There are numerous references
to its "Page Quality" project which follow a theme SEO's are likely familiar
with - high quality content, trusted sources, and unique content. If you were
hit hard by Panda or Penguin and still haven't recovered, your site likely
features low quality content (read
Google Crushes Spinners and Spammers) or duplicate content. And if you have
not dug into the data being provided by Google to about
the quality of inbound links, you probably should make that a priority.
Site Clustering: There have been numerous reports over the past
few months of an increase of results (on the same page) from a single domain.
While I expect this mainly relates to brand specific search terms, "site
clustering" is a term that can be found in the change list repeatedly and its
impact can likely be seen elsewhere. Google indicated that is working on
multiple projects to make its system for clustering web results "better and
simpler," so expect more changes related to site clustering to emerge in the
coming months - and keep a virtual eye on the SERPs.
Snippets: Sitelinks are another important element in the list
of changes. Falling under the "Snippets" codename, SEO's should expect less
boilerplate text in sitelinks titles, improved clustering and ranking of link in
the expanded sitelinks feature, and more useful text in sitelinks.
Answers: Perhaps the most important, but definitely the least
discussed since the announcement was made, are the search quality changes
related to "Answers." 23 items on the list of 86 were related to the "Answers"
project and relate to how Google shows query answers atop search results. In my
discussions with other search marketers, many expect that this project is
directly related to two very important changes to the way Google is planning to
return results in the future - the
Knowledge Graph and Google Shopping (that's speculation, but consider it
speculation of an informed nature).
The full list of
Google's search quality changes can be found here.