Google’s Latest Algorithm Changes (They Don’t Include Panda)

As you may know, Google has been putting out a monthly list of algorithm changes it has been making, as part of the company’s initiative to be “more transparent”. Google will never put out the entire secret sauce of its algorithm (without a court order, at least), so webmasters can at least be thankful that they’re being thrown a handful of bones in the form of a monthly list.

Have you seen effects from Google’s most recent algorithm changes? Let us know in the comments.
Some have apparently already been feeling the effects of Google’s algorithmic early this year. Webmasters were quick to point the finger at the old panda, but Google assures us that this is not the case. A spokesperson for the company told WebProNews there have been no Panda updates in 2012 so far (though I’d expect one to launch before too long).
By the way, now that 2011 is over, do you think Panda has done a good job at cleaning up search results?
In the latest edition of the series, on the company’s Inside Search Blog, they highlight 21 changes made in the month of December. The list goes as follows:

•    Image Search landing page quality signals:  [launch codename “simple”] This is an improvement that analyzes various landing page signals for Image Search. We want to make sure that not only are we showing you the most relevant images, but we are also linking to the highest quality source pages.

•    More relevant sitelinks:  [launch codename “concepts”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We improved our algorithm for picking sitelinks. The result is more relevant sitelinks; for example, we may show sitelinks specific to your metropolitan region, which you can control with your location setting.

•    Soft 404 Detection:  Web servers generally return the 404 status code when someone requests a page that doesn’t exist. However, some sites are configured to return other status codes, even though the page content might explain that the page was not found. We call these soft 404s (or “crypto” 404s) and they can be problematic for search engines because we aren’t sure if we should ignore the pages. This change is an improvement to how we detect soft 404s, especially in Russian, German and Spanish. For all you webmasters out there, the best practice is still to always use the correct response code.        read more>>

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