Google has recently published their monthly “Search quality highlights” post. In March, Google made 50 changes. What are the most important changes and do you have to change something on your web pages?

Not all of Google’s changes affect your rankings

Most of the 50 changes that Google did in March won’t affect your search engine rankings. For example, Google’s Autocomplete feature now supports math symbols. This makes it easier to search for popular equations such as E = mc2 but it doesn’t affect the majority of the searches

Here are the changes that will have the biggest impact on the search results:

1. Tweaks to handling of anchor text and better interpretation and use of anchor text

Google announced two changes regarding anchor texts:

“We turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.”

“We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.”

What does this mean for your website?

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t go into detail. One can only guess. It might if the links to a web page overuse the same anchor text, the value of these links might be lowered.

To do: Check the backlinks of your website with a backlink analysis tool. The anchor texts that point to a website should contain the targeted keywords but they should also vary.

2. Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent

“A navigational query is a search where it looks like the user is looking to navigate to a particular website, such as ‘New York Times’ […]

What if the user doesn’t actually know the right URL? What if the URL they’re searching for seems to be a parked domain (with no content)? This change improves results for this kind of search.”

“This change improves the balance of results we show, and helps ensure you’ll find highly relevant navigational results or local results towards the top of the page as appropriate for your query.”

What does this mean for your website?

These changes mean that Google will prefer navigational and local results on the top of the result list if Google is sure that you’re looking for a local service or a particular website.

To do: if you target local keywords, it is important that your website is listed correctly in Google Places.

3. Other interesting changes

Google has improved the algorithm for direct answers, which means that searchers will get the answer to their question on the search result page. Many won’t visit the listed sites then.

Google also improved the image search feature and the index now also contains fresher sites.

Google is continually tweaking the algorithm. Cool tricks that work today might not work tomorrow. For that reason, it is important to optimize your website with techniques that last.

Avoid tricks that try to game Google’s algorithm and use safe SEO methods

Create good website content and show Google that the content is relevant to your keywords. Then get backlinks from the right kind of website to show Google that your website is liked by the right kind of people.

These two steps make sure that your rankings will last even if Google changes the algorithm.

Google changes the algorithm to make sure that the best websites are listed first. The right type of content and the right type of links show Google that your website is such a good site.

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