Google’s Latest Algorithm Changes (Freshness Update Gets Updated)

    February 5, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google rolled out “Search Plus Your World” in January, but that’s not the only change they made to how they deliver search results. Not even close.

If you’ve been following, you may know that Google has been putting out blog posts the last few months highlighting some of the various algorithm changes they’ve made (without giving away the secret sauce of course). Here’s our coverage of last month’s updates.

Here’s what Google now lists for January:

  • Fresher results. [launch codename “nftc”] We made several adjustments to the freshness algorithm that we released in November. These are minor updates to make sure we continue to give you the freshest, most relevant results.
  • Faster autocomplete. [launch codename “Snappy Suggest”, project codename “Suggest”] We made improvements to our autocomplete system to deliver your predicted queries much faster.
  • Autocomplete spelling corrections. [launch codename “Trivial”, project codename “Suggest”] This is an improvement to the spelling corrections used in autocomplete, making those corrections more consistent with the spelling corrections used in search. This launch targets corrections where the spelling change is very small.
  • Better spelling full-page replacement. [launch codenames “Oooni”, “sgap”, project codename “Full-Page Replacement”] When we’re confident in a spelling correction we automatically show results for the corrected query and let you know we’re “Showing results for [cheetah]” (rather than, say, “cheettah”). We made a couple of changes to improve the accuracy of this feature.
  • Better spelling corrections for rare queries. This change improves one of the models that we use to make spelling corrections. The result is more accurate spell corrections for a number of rare queries.
  • Improve detection of recurrent event pages. [launch codename “neseda”] We made several improvements to how we determine the date of a document. As a result, you’ll see fresher, more timely results, particularly for pages discussing recurring events.
  • High-quality sites algorithm improvements. [launch codenames “PPtl” and “Stitch”, project codename “Panda”] In 2011, we launched the Panda algorithm change, targeted at finding more high-quality sites. We improved how Panda interacts with our indexing and ranking systems, making it more integrated into our pipelines. We also released a minor update to refresh the data for Panda.
  • Cross-language refinements. [launch codename Xiangfan] Previously, we only generated related searches based on the display language. With this change, we also attempt to auto-detect the language of the original query to generate related search queries. Now, a user typing a query in French might see French query refinements, even if her language is set to English.
  • English on Google Saudi Arabia. Users in Saudi Arabia can now more easily choose an English interface to search on google.com.sa.
  • Improved scrolling for Image Search. Previously when you scrolled in Image Search, only the image results would move while the top and side menus were pinned in place. We changed the scrolling behavior to make it consistent with our main search results and the other search modes, where scrolling moves the entire page.
  • Improved image search quality. [launch codename “endearo”, project codename “Image Search”] This is a small improvement to our image search ranking algorithm. In particular, this change helps images with high-quality landing pages rank higher in our image search results.
  • More relevant related searches. Sometimes at the bottom of the screen you’ll see a section called “Searches related to” with other queries you may want to try. With this change, we’ve updated the model for generating related searches, resulting in more useful query refinements.
  • Blending of news results. [launch codename “final-destination”, project codename “Universal Search”] We improved our algorithm that decides which queries should show news results, making it more responsive to realtime trends. We also made an adjustment to how we blend news results in Universal Search. Both of these changes help news articles appear in your search results when they are relevant.
  • Automatically disable Google Instant based on computer speed. [project codename “Psychic Search”] Google Instant has long had the ability to automatically turn itself off if you’re on a slow internet connection. Now Instant can also turn itself off if your computer is slow. If Instant gets automatically disabled, we continue to check your computer speed and will re-enable Instant if your performance improves. We’ve also tweaked search preferencesso you can always have Instant on or off, or have it change automatically.

I thought it seemed like Google was placing a great deal of emphasis on recency. Now, we find out that they’ve made adjustments to the freshness update to make them even fresher and “more relevant”. I’m not sure that “more relevant” part is always working, however. Sometimes the freshest result isn’t the most relevant, and sometimes I think Google is showing results that would be better with less emphasis on freshness.


Other times, it can be helpful. I guess it does, to some extent, make up for Google’s lack of realtime search, which went away with the expiration of the company’s agreement with Twitter last year.

Again, to some extent. Not the full extent.

The “final-destination” update, which deals with how Google blends news results into the mix is worth noting as well. The fact that this is based around “realtime trends” seems to be another area where Google attempting to fill the void of realtime search.

Don’t expect Google to get Twitter-based realtime search back anytime soon. The two companies apparently won’t even talk to each other.

Note that the Panda update was also addressed.

Do you think Google’s recent changes have made results better? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steven G

    I think Panda has made things worse, and I’ve seen no improvement since it’s first launch for the things we search for (We tend to search a lot because of the websites we operate). The search result blocking tool was a great idea, but when Google took those signals to heart, I feel they didn’t take into account those users that blocked things just because they could. Maybe they were jealous, maybe they simply hated seeing the same result for the same search they do every day, maybe they just wanted to hurt a site on purpose. There are many reasons why somebody would block a site out of their search results that don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the site or it’s pages. If Google were to kill Panda you’d have the world thanking them for bringing back the relevancy. If Bing or Yahoo could magically get the amount of traffic that Google does, everybody would stay with Bing or Yahoo because while the quality isn’t perfect, it’s a whole lot better than what Google is serving up these days. The problem is Google is there to push their brand in any way they can, making it harder for Yahoo or Bing to attract users to switch.

  • http://www.inetseo.co.uk Social SEO Guy

    Wow – that’s a lot of freshness updates! Can already see where some of this is heading and might suggest a few tweaks to some of the guys I’m working with on a project right now.

  • Td

    Ok …then people will be changing the published date and it will look “fresh” to google?
    I hate panda too ibc it gave my rankings to sites that stole all my content! My site went to pg 50 and they shot to pg 1 where I WAS! I dumped ev thing google and doubled down on Bing an yahoo + more social stuff like FB and TWtr. Who needs Google Really??

  • tercüme

    I think recent changes (freshness update does not changed search result as told. Whatever the content is, it brings the most valued link-exchanged sites. They told that it affects the search results 35% but ı think its on 20%s.
    Nekati From

  • benjamin

    Google image search “big tits” with safe search off… not a single bit of porn WTF!!!

  • http://www.daronet.com Daronet

    Well, it seems Google investing in the “more accurate results” algorithm which sounds a bit vague. What are more accurate results? I think they aim towards the Google Plus based results shared by others.

  • http://www.cricketcollectables.net tony selby

    Yes I think the improvements are positive and should benefit the person who is offering a worthwhile experience for the searcher, although I also think they can be interpreted in more than one direction, freshness is good and I interpret this to mean latest update on a particular item service or topic, however lots of longstanding product descriptions, articles, news and comments may well hold far more value.

  • Wolf

    As a gmail user, I can tell you this that even fast connections and computers will bog down under all the Java, Javascript, Flash, and Shockwave ads that google seems to think are relevant to your gmail experience. I have a T-! connection to the net, I have a Intel quadcore cpu, I have 4gb or free ram, and I have a 1tb hdd. Even using Firefox with AdBlocker Plus I can watch my RAM, CPU cycles, and VM vanish and I will get the dreaded Low Virtual Memory notice even trying to use their New Look in Gmail much less anywhere where else in the Google realm. As for their websearch engine, I could care less what someone said on facebook about an issue I an looking for information on, I want real results, not someones wall. Google is loosing their edge and becoming mainstream, They followed Facebook in removing or in googles case hiding the Sign Out option, now they are stuffing so much java, javascript, flash, and shockwave into everything that I almost constantly get javascript errors popping up as I do my email, I have added Noscript and remove all the crap that gmail has in it and I use the HTML version of their email ui. NO, at one time goolge was a good company, but now they are follow-the-herd, make no waves, load down everything, copycats. I do not use Facebook, I do not use Google+, I do not use Youtube, Blogger, LinkedIn, or any of those sites, why do they think I want to read someone popping off about a program, or an issue, or a bug report, when what I need is facts from the creators of the program or the finders of the issue, or the reporters of the bug report.

  • Bird

    you want to make $85 hourly and $7000 per month like me just working on laptop for few hours! Would you like to be your own boss!Opportunities like this don’t come by often. Don’t let this one pass you by!cashhuge.[com]

  • http://www.orb-web.com/en/webzine.php Orb Web

    Does it even possible to keep up with all the changes that Google does monthly? This week I’ll release the v2 of one of my sites and time I finish it, I’ve seem more than 20 updates at least in about 8 weeks.
    As you said, freshness is good and not good at once. What about if you wrote a really good article who got authorities, will it fade away with time?

  • http://goddessoftheworld.blogspot.com/ SS

    It is no more fun using Google. I have been looking for some definitions and their search engine is not helping me. Before December things went a little better. But now its all messed up. I feel the first few results equal to almost spams. They are less valuable.

  • http://finedining-indian.blogspot.com/ Supriya@finediningindian

    thanks for the information i was checking the whole web for a detailed info thanks

  • http://www.seo-smart.co.uk/ SEO Smart

    Agree with some of the above, it seems a fight between relevancy and freshness with the context of Google positioning itself with Google Plus based results shared by others.

  • http://www.thebreps.info emgee

    thanks alot! I’ve learned something…

  • havanna ture

    I think last changes are entering into force by time. I could see its affects on some sites..