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Google Algorithm Changes & Updates 2010: Part One
Monday, June 21, 2010
2010 has been a great year in the evolution of Google's algorithm.  Dating back to the fall of 2009, when the first tests of Google Caffeine were being mentioned, many felt that this was just the start of a new era for Google and how they would be returning search results.  In fact, we could argue that dating back to June of 2007, when Google rolled out their Universal Search (read: blended search), as well as personalization, the game of Search was starting to change.  Late last year, Google announced that they had begun rolling out personalized search to all.

Google is not a company that does things by the book, nor are they a company that falls to complacency. I was at SES New York in the Spring of 2009, and I remember a comment from a Googler who stated that last year (implying 2008 at the time) Google made around 450 changes to their algorithm.  This to me was something that I, like many, had suspected, but when you break it down, this told us that Google makes 1.23 changes to their algorithms everyday...  everyday!  Talk about continuous improvement.  The reason for the high frequency of tweaks and changes to the algorithm?  Google truly does want to provide the best results possible.  Currently of the major search engines, Google does in fact return the best results out there, but as we all know, the results are not always perfect.  Having said that Google continues to dominate in terms of market share, at least in North America, where Google currently sits at around 64% according to comScore data.

The point is, is that there has been a lot of change with Google in 2010 thus far.  Let's take inventory of some of the changes Google has rolled out in 2010.

Inventory of Google Algorithm & Related Updates for 2010
  1. August 2009:  Initial Roll-out of Google Caffeine - stating it is more of an infrastructure update as opposed to an algorithm update, this was where we were seeing some of the testing of Google Caffeine in action.  Google Caffeine would officially roll out in June 2010.  See item #11 below.
  2. Fall 0f 2009:  Google Strives to make the Web Faster - page speed becomes a hot topic of discussion as real-time search begins to make it's way into the Google search results.  Matt Cutts stated that ".. a lot of people within Google think that the Web should be fast..".  Optimizing for page speed can not only help your site perform well from a technical stand point, but it can help improve bounce rates, and in the near future may actually help improve your rankings in Google.  Well it appears that the future is here as Google has officially factored page speed into their algorithms.
  3. December 2010: Real-Time Search Feature is Launched - Clicking on "Latest results" or select "Latest" from the search options menu now offers a view a full page of live tweets, blogs, news and other web content scrolling right on Google. 
  4. January 2010: Answer Highlighting in Search Results - has Google turned into ASK Jeeves, well no, but a similar concept where answer highlighting helps you get to information more quickly by seeking out and bolding the likely answer to your question right in search results.
  5.  February 2010:  Refined Searches by Location - Google added the ability to refine your searches with the "Nearby" tool in the Search Options panel.  Another Google update to another piece of their Universal/blended search results.
  6. March 2010:  Google Search Feature launched to Provide Public Data - If you go to Google.com and type in [unemployment rate] or [population] followed by a U.S. state or county, you will see the most recent estimates.  In March of 2010, Google released this feature again in hopes of providing a richer Search experience for users. 
  7. March 2010:  Google to Display Microdata in Descriptions - with the search results, Google announced that Microdata for use in rich snippets as specified in HTML 5 would now be included in the description of the results if they are defined in the page.  http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/03/microdata-support-for-rich-snippets.html
  8. April 2010:  Google Announces that Page Speed / Site Speed is Officially a Ranking Factor - there is a chance that slower sites would be affected by a decline in rankings in Google SERPs.  http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
  9. April 2010:  Google Updates Real-Time Search Results - zoom to any point in time and “replay” what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter. To try it out, click “Show options” on the search results page, then select “Updates.” The first page will show you the familiar latest and greatest short-form updates from a comprehensive set of sources, but now there’s a new chart at the top. In that chart, you can select the year, month or day, or click any point to view the tweets from that specific time period.  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/replay-it-google-search-across-twitter.html
  10. May 2010:  Google MayDay Update:  Long Tail Algorithm Change - what began on April 27, 2010, started with reports that some site owners were experiencing as much as a 50-90% decrease in traffic from long tail searches.  As Matt Cutts stated in late May, "... This is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries. It went through vigorous testing and isn’t going to be rolled back."  Long tail traffic was impacted based on the Google MayDay Update.  This was confirned by Google as a rankings change and not a crawling or indexing change.
  11. June 2010:  Google's New Search Index:  Caffeine - on June 8th, Google announced that their new indexing engines was official.  According to Google, "Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it's the largest collection of web content we've offered. Whether it's a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before."  Caffeine was built for the future in mind, factoring in things such as real-time search and the need for timely search results.  Was this a reaction by Google to micro-blogging and social environments such as Twitter?  Perhaps, but the fact of the matter is, Google understood that they needed to improve their search results as people search for accurate and timely information.  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/our-new-search-index-caffeine.html
There you have it, eleven distinct Google updates with many of them tweaks to their algorithms that have transpired over recent months.  If there is one thing that you can appreciate about Google, it's their desire to evolve and leverage innovation in hopes of providing the world's information in an easy to find and timely manner.

In part two, we will look at the impact of these Google updates on site owners and on SEO.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 21, 2010  
  • At 10:27 PM, Blogger Andre said…

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  • At 9:49 AM, Anonymous laura said…

    This is great. Will you be updating it for the remainder of the year?

  • At 9:20 PM, Anonymous eGrove Systems said…

    Great post. Suggest me ways to improve SERP based on the Google algorithm update

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