Have You Seen Changes in Your Website Ranking? – Google Makes 40 Algorithm Changes in February 2012

February was a busy month for Google, which made 40 changes to the globally renowned search engine. These changes are aimed to improve the systems related to sitelinks, autocomplete, UI elements, indexing, synonyms, SafeSearch, related searches and more. Each little change on a website or search engine has the potential to make a large scale difference over time.

From the following changes you can learn how Google is better structuring itself and take away some insider knowledge that you can apply to stay ahead of the ever changing digital curve.

Google has launched a new codename to bring in fresh data and generate more content for search related results. This new feature not only provides users with a wider range of related information, but also includes the option to narrow down related search results.

Furthermore, Google has added new signals to aid in quickly generating fresh content and they have refined the data for commonly related search results. Google has also made an effort to improve its categoriser so it preforms better for expanded sitelinks. The edited categoriser now identifies duplicate snippets to get more relevant sitelinks.

It’s no secret that Google hates duplicate content, so they have made an effort to reduce duplication themselves in expanded sitelink’s snippets. In this effort, snippets will be more relevant based on the page content rather than the content of the query. Google has also enhanced the direct links to video related snippets to increase their quality and expand search coverage.

To further trim the fat, Google amended how they identify official pages to reduce the amount of unofficial pages produced in search results. They have refined their autocomplete policy algorithms to refine the algorithms related to inappropriate and offensive terms. Google has made further adjustments to improve detection of adult image content to create safer internet browsing.

clean up

The updates to Google’s SafeSearch will limit the amount of irrelevant adult content generated by many searches. Amongst this early spring cleaning, Google also fixed some of their spam protection weaknesses, updated the Panda system and modified their link evaluation to keep it clean and clear.

Google did some visual tidying up this past month as well. Now all thumbnail images on results pages are formatted to more consistent sizes. This clear clean look has been formatted for mobile and tablet devices as well. Coupling this image enhancement, Google has made an effort to generate fresh images as they appear on the web.

In a constant pursuit for an aesthetically pleasing appearance and easy use, Google has made further visual enhancements of the Google drop-down bar and account settings page. Along with a clean visual appearance, Google has disabled two old fresh query classifiers and improved the signals used in algorithm tracking.

Google has refocused YouTube video searched to a more locally based search. For example if a local kiwi typed in Foo Fighters, video results for New Zealand performances would appear, and differing locally focused video results would appear if a fan in the USA searched the same term.

In addition to locally tailoring video results Google has also updated the associated country URLs to include all recent data. For users searching in a different language, Google made advancements to foreign language synonyms by expanding search result pages brought up by related synonyms of specific queries.

There has been a new system launched to aid searchers who desire a more locally focused search. This system better detects a user’s need to find results from their city and accurately generates them accordingly. On a broader scale, Google has expanded their Universal Search image index to generate more relevant images for widespread results (making good alt tags all the more important).

Another change implemented was to increase result variety through modifying the ranking for searches using the “site.” On more of a centralised scale Korea has greatly benefited from the February revamps, as Google has categorised Korean search results into specific news, homepage and blog sections. In addition, Google has launched both Korean and English spelling improvements.


In Korea there have been many confused searches for users who enter Hangul terms in Latin Mode (& vice-versa), but now Google will be able to better correct spelling when search inquiries are entered in the wrong keyboard mode. Google has made their scoring functions more precise and accurate which will benefit the quality of spelling correction in English.

Portuguese, Dutch and Italian speakers will also be seeing new changes in regards to Google’s identification and classification of soft 404 error pages in these languages. Google has made a global enhancement to their Web History by launching it in 20 new countries! This feature enables users to see their past searches and enables Google to further personally tailor results to them based on previous queries.

There is exciting news for business across the globe! Google has globally expanded its shopping rich snippets, which means that product prices, availability, reviews and ratings are highlighted to clearly display offered products to browsing customers.

There have also been improvements made to local search result rankings through advancing Local Universal. Google has not only simplified searches for customers and businesses, but has made the lives of travellers easier as well by improving the triggering on flight-related searches.

This will give searching travellers more accurate flight results, ideally making a smoother travel experience. To appease travellers on the go, Google has enhanced Flight Search on mobile phones. Google shows they understand what’s important to its searchers and has made improvements to the results produced by health and concert searches.

Google is a proud supplier of information to the world and has made some advancements related to news generation. Previously there was a bug that hid News Universal results, and Google has cleaned it up now enable results to show and be used.

There has also been the modification to consolidate signals related to spiking topics. This change will enable the search engine to quickly and accurately detect spiking results of popular search engines. If you’re in Turkey and wondering what the weather is, you will be happy to know that Google has modified the Turkish weather search feature to accurately provide searchers with the forecast directly on the results page.

These extensive changes will ideally refine search results to better meet user’s queries and give way to genuine optimised websites. By understanding Google and coordinating with what it likes website owners can formulate the necessary tactics to rise up to the top of search results and become number one.

The Pure SEO Team

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