Going Inside Google Search Updates

It’s important to remember that some of the biggest changes in Google search results were not named all named after animals. As a matter of fact, some major changes in Google search algorithms this year have been named after nothing at all. When analyzing Google’s pervasive search quality highlight posts on its official Inside Search blog, algorithmic tweaks for Panda and Penguin represent less than 3 percent of the changes Google has made to its core search functionality since the first of the year.

In order to be able to make these kinds of statements, I had to analyze all of Google’s Inside Search blog posts made since the first of the year, which includes updates actually made in December 2011, and try to classify the Google product, service, or function that was attuned. You can read my analysis of Google Search Updates over at Search Engine Watch, but I do plan on updating additional details here in a future post.

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Less is the New More, More or Less?

It’s always interesting to watch some of the broader trends in search engine referrals. One of the more recent, and certainly more interesting developments in search engine usage, has to be that less is the new more. At least that’s what Coremetrics is reporting when comparing early 2009 search data with later results.

2009 U.S. Clicks by Number of Keywords

2009 U.S. Clicks by Number of Keywords

Use of one-word phrases has increased nearly 16% from Jan. 2009 to Oct. 2009. At first glance, this development would certainly lend credibility to those that contend the long tail of search is in full wain. But it really could be more a reflection in the change is searcher behavior moreover a paradigm shift away from the longtail of search.

For example, think about how we search for brands. Do we Google it to go to the site or do we type the full URL in our browsers? Since Google has focused on producing more relevant branded results in 2009, perhaps the data is a reflection of browser laziness rather than a shift away from using three+ words in a search query. Perhaps the
Coremetrics data has been influenced by iPhone usage for search. After all, who wants to type in all those phrases on a mobile search engine. Of course, it could just be that we’re using the search engines rather than bookmarks to return to the same site time and time again.

2009 Clicks by Number of Keywords Data

2009 Clicks by Number of Keywords Data

It’s important to note that the Coremetrics data is specific to clicks on search results as it relates to the number of words used in successful search queries. Also, I don’t know how suggested search results may have impacted the data. Does a one word query supplemented by search engine suggestion affect the data in any way? Either way, this remains and interesting data set to watch as it evolves over time.

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