Google’s been up to a lot lately. In the second quarter of 2012 there were numerous Google changes, including the release of Google Penguin.
Here is a timeline of some noteworthy Google changes from the past two months:
April 2012: Google updates index size and tiers
Fifty-two search quality changes for the month of April included a 15% increase in Google’s base index size plus the addition of a new index tier. The Search Guru clients saw an average reduction of 21% of pages in the base index for the week of May 21 compared to the previous week.
April 24, 2012: Google Penguin search algorithm change
This Google update targeted web spam; specifically, sites that Google believes are violating their quality guidelines. According to Google, this update affected about 3 percent of search queries. Specific spam tactics targeted include:
- Hidden doorway pages
- Buying links/link schemes
- Different pages for search engines vs. users
- Hidden text or hidden links
- Cloaking or redirects
- Duplicate or “thin” content
- Keyword stuffing
May 25, 2012: Google Penguin Update 1.1
This “data refresh” of the web spam search algorithm impacted less than one-tenth of a percent of English-language searches.
May 30, 2012: Google updates Google Places to Google+ Local
The roll out of Google+ Local, which incorporates Google Places for Business into Google+, caused some confusion. The biggest change was the addition of a new local search ranking factor; since Google acquired Zagat it has adopted its rating system for restaurants, which are now called Google+ Local scores. These scores affect how businesses are ranked and displayed for searches with local intent.
Special note about the Google Venice update from February 2012: This Google update allowed for local results to be returned in response to non-local queries. Google now includes results specific to location regardless if local terms are included in the search query.
May 31, 2012: Google changes Product Search to Shopping
Google announced that Product Search is being replaced by Google Product Listing Ads (currently part of AdWords). The new product will be called Google Shopping and will no longer be free.
Sites currently getting traffic from Google Product Search will stop getting that traffic. It will decrease slowly over the course of the next few months. By October 2012 there will be no free Google Product Search. For sites that wish to continue to receive traffic via a source similar to Google Product Search, new Google Shopping campaigns must be set up from within Google AdWords. Important note: Google Shopping is a paid inclusion model with no guarantee of prominent placement.