Did This Google Update Actually Improve Results?

    September 19, 2012
    Chris Crum

Google messes with its algorithm every day, but it’s not every day that Google lets us know about what it’s doing.

On Friday, Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted about a new update to Google’s algorithm, which he said, “improves the diversity of search results in terms of different domains returned.”

Has this update improved Google results? Let us know what you think.

Most can probably agree that such an update would be helpful to users and webmasters alike (apart from those lucky enough to be dominating the SERPs). One WebProNews reader commented, “I think this is a great idea. I have no idea how many times I have seen a certain domain show up 3-4 different times in the top 5 pages. The first page is really the only one that matters anyways. But this will enable more people to rank for harder keywords. Well hopefully at least.”

Another added, “I’ve seen something even worse, results from a same domain occupied the whole first 3 pages in SERPs. Hopefully this update works.”

So far, however, we’ve seen little evidence that the update has done what it is supposed to do on a wide scale. In fact, so far, we haven’t seen any examples where it’s specifically been improved. There are some examples out there of where it has not improved.

Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land points to the results for the query “christopher jagmin plates,” for example. Search for that, and you’re likely to get ten results on the first page from ChristopherJagmin.com. You start getting into some other domains about halfway down page 2.

Google Domain Diversity?

Likewise, Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a query for “bobs furniture”. This one isn’t quite as bad, but still, four out of seven results are from Yelp.

Google domain diversity?

In a WebmasterWorld forum thread on the topic, one user comments, “I’m still seeing typical results in travel though – for a sample ‘xxx hotel reviews’ no less than 8 out of 10 results are Tripadvisor. Admittedly they are on two different domains (.co.uk and .com), but surely Google can work out they’re effectively the same site. Looks like they still have some work to do.”

Another adds, “I share that sentiment and find it borderline idiotic to return the same site up to 87 times in the top 100.”

One member says, “Diversity in search results used to be standard in Google results. They’ve really messed up their search results and are now backpedaling.”

Some do claim to be seeing some improvements.

Brett Tabke, WebmasterWorld’s founder, even joined the conversation, saying, “Remember a few months ago when I had a search that returned 20 results from the same site? That type of multi-result is not happening anymore.”

A WebProNews reader tells us, “I would say I noticed immediate improvements in recipe searches. Where AllRecipes.com used to command 70-80% of first and second page results, they don’t really take over until the 4th page now.”

“In the last 24 hours I’ve seen several market categories where exact match domains seem to have dropped at the expense of other domains,” another reader added.

Just because the examples haven’t been easy to spot, does not mean Google’s update did not perform as intended. You can always point to examples of where Google updates didn’t work. The question is, how often are you organically happening onto search results pages where Google is plastering results from the same domain all over the page? If the answer is, “not very,” than perhaps Google succeeded in its goal.

As Google will often say, no algorithm is perfect.

Cutts did indicate that this was a minor update. It would be interesting to know how many sites have been positively and negatively impacted. There don’t seem to be nearly the amount of complaints we would see with a Panda or a Penguin update.

There was some speculation going around last week that Google may have launched a new Panda update, but the general consensus appears to be that what webmasters were experiencing was more likely a result of this change.

Google did announce this morning, however, that a Panda refresh is rolling out now, so I guess we’ll see the reaction to the effects of that come pouring in next:

Meanwhile, webmasters and SEOs are anxiously awaiting Google’s next Penguin update, which the company has indicated could be “jarring”.

We’re also still waiting on Google to reveal its big list of algorithm changes for the month of August. Last time, they oddly waited a couple of months before unleashing a giant list of two months worth of changes, so it’s hard to say when we might get the next list.

What do you think? Have you noticed any improvement? Let us know in the comments.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.