Google Search on a Timeline

This slideshow – A History of Google Algorithm Updates – reminds us of the ways Google search has changed over nearly 15 years. It’s quite stunning and we can only wonder – what next? The timeline was created by DPFOC, an online marketing agency offering SEO services.

Google drops in-depth

Several have reported that Google has dropped labelling In Depth Articles – they are being blended into organic results and the accompanying images have been dropped. In Depth articles didn’t show in results – annoying for searchers in Canada. This is an odd change in design – don’t they want users to know that those items are more “in depth” and of higher quality?

Google Quietly Drops In Depth Articles Title In Search Results, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Roundtable. (Apr 10)

Google Search Can Penetrate Databases

Google explains in this patent a prototype for surfacing content from structured databases.

How Google May Index Deep Web Entities, by Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (April 5)

Bill Slawski presents this takeaway

If you’ve been looking for a connection between the SEO of web-page Crawling, and the use of Data from sources like Knowledge-bases, this paper describes such a connection – using data from a knowledge-base such as freebase to query the content of a deepweb database, such as an ecommerce site where content doesn’t surface to be crawled unless it is queried first.

Dates in Google Answer Boxes

Watch for it – Google is showing more dates with search results – especially those handy Answer Boxes.

Google Begins Including Dates on Answer Boxes in Search Results to Show Timeliness, Jennifer Slegg, The SEM Post (April 6)

Some answer boxes are now displaying the date the content was published at the end of the content in the answer box to show how timely the information presented is. Especially on topics that are constantly changing, this means that a searcher can perhaps get a better idea of how accurate the information is based upon the date it was published

Google getting smarter

The job of the search engine marketer gets more difficult by the day. The factors Google uses for ranking results are increasingly complex. Long gone is the day the search engine ranked on frequency of words, proximity of words, and links (etc). Nate Dane, in this piece, observes – firstly, that Google makes fewer announcements about algorithmic changes and with less fanfare; and secondly, that Google through investment in AI is getting “smarter”.

They Fooled Us All: Why Google May No Longer Announce Major Algorithm Updates, Search Engine Land (March 27)

Getting to

Sometimes we want to use the US (or global) version of Google – – and not our country version. There used to be a link at the bottom of the page. Not so much anymore – and maybe not at all.

How Google Made It A Little Harder To Reach From Outside The US, Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Mar 4)

Sullivan suggests that Google may have been under some pressure to control access. Google just says local is better for searchers.

There is a browser extension – SEO Global for Google Search – available for Chrome and Firefox for easily selecting the country version. It was described in See how your SEO Ranks in Google Search from Anywhere (Sept 24, 2013)

“Right to be forgotten” – Yes or No?

Here is a thoughtful examination of the issues that underpin the “right to be forgotten” and Google’s response. It’s not black and white – the many aspects make the questions we need to address quite complex.

How Google determined our right to be forgotten, Julia Powles and Enrique Chaparro, The Guardian (Feb 18)

Google doesn’t show well.

“Nine months after the European ruling, it is clear that Google’s implementation has been fast, idiosyncratic, and allowed the company to shape interpretation to its own ends, as well as to gain an advantage on competitors and regulators forced into reactive mode. It avoided a broader and much deeper reflection on digital public space, information sedimentation, and the exploration of collaborative solutions between public and private actors – such as a joint request service across different search engines, with processes for getting confidential advice from publishers and public officials.”

And we need to learn to distinguish between public and private.

“So, if we concede that the internet is public space, that the web is the public record, then Google, on its logic, is the custodian and indexer of our personal records. We must be careful to distinguish the offerings of a handful of internet services from the real public record guaranteed by law, from archives, and even from human memory itself – which will all continue to be available when the amusement park closes.”

Reading Level in Google Search

Google Operating System has reported a Google Reading Level Bug (Feb 18). Reading level is a hard-to-find and therefore easy-to-forget search feature on web searches. Find it by picking Search Tools > All Results > Reading level. When it works it helps you zero in on content that is “advanced” or scholarly, vs basic / elementary or intermediate.

Google is still identifying the advanced items but isn’t capturing them in the graph.


Patterns in Google’s Autocomplete

Next time you search Google watch the suggested searches that pop up – especially those for the first letter you enter. Host Advice has analyzed the autocompletes and created an alphabet according to Google. The letter A, as an example, is surely going to show Amazon first – likely worldwide; and there is a pretty good chance that E will be eBay.

The Phonetic Alphabet according to Google – 2015 by Eliran Ouzan, Host Advice (Jan 25)

There will be some variations depending on where you live. In Toronto, C is for Canadian Tire. These auto completes are influenced by current local search activity – how else would J be for Jian Ghomeshi? ut this will pass, and J might change to Joe Fresh, at least in Canada. Anyway – fun to watch.

Google health answers

Google will be adding “structured and curated health information” obtained from medical authorities (such as Mayo Clinic) into the Knowledge Graph side panels.

Google Introduces Rich Medical Content Into Knowledge Graph, Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Feb 10)

Of interest: 1 in 20 searches are health related.

Only in the US for now: “The rollout is for U.S. English, for the time being, on the Google app (Android and iOS) and for the PC. However Google plans to expand the number of conditions and later make the information available outside the US.”