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OPLIN 4Cast #256: Google changes

Posted in 4cast

Like it or not, librarians use Google searching quite often in the course of their workday. While the authority of information gathered from Google is certainly not guaranteed, there are some times when “library database” searches like just aren’t appropriate, and Google is. Because professionals ought to be aware of how their tools work, today’s 4cast calls attention to some recent changes to Google searching that librarians should know about.

  • Google kills its own “Timeline” feature (ReadWriteWeb/Jon Mitchell)  “The end of Timeline coincides with its implementation of new real-time search algorithms that privilege recent results over old ones by assuming when users want current information. It’s also experimenting with real-time search on Google+, and it’s surfacing recent posts from the social network in Web search. The removal of Timeline pushes users of Google search away from historical content and toward real-time results.”
  • Google removes the + search command (Search Engine Land/Barry Schwartz and Danny Sullivan)  “The plus symbol was used by web search engines before Google started. It’s been widely taught, and it seems to have been tossed out and replaced by quotes because of a problem Google created for itself, by picking stupid names for its social network.”
  • Most recent Google algorithm changes; 10 recent algorithm & SEO elements (Optimum7/Duran Inci)  “This [refined official page detection] is consistent with Google’s efforts to get rid of content farms and spam sites. Their algorithm can identify the official owner of a website or content, as well as the official author of a piece of content. So, the authority of your name (as the author) on your content matters as much as the authority of your website. How do they know if a company or a person is official? They crawl and analyze a lot of metrics from social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.”
  • Ten recent algorithm changes (Inside Search [Google blog]/Matt Cutts)  “If you’re a site owner, before you go wild tuning your anchor text or thinking about your web presence for Icelandic users, please remember that this is only a sampling of the hundreds of changes we make to our search algorithms in a given year, and even these changes may not work precisely as you’d imagine. We’ve decided to publish these descriptions in part because these specific changes are less susceptible to gaming.”

Change fact:
Google makes over 500 changes to their search algorithm every year, but seldom shares the details. Last August, they did post a 4-minute video that explains their general process for making changes.