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Google's Algorithm in 2009

According to Google, 540 improvements was made to the search engine in the year 2009.

Canonical Cross-Domain

Taking into account the attribute rel=”canonical” which was implemented some months ago to avoid duplicate content between pages within a site, has been extended to similar pages on different domain names.
It is still preferable to use 301 redirects when you migrate a site on another domain.
Source Google.

To protect your site against other sites that might copy your content without permission, see how to build a generic canonical tag in PHP.
December 15, 2009

Real-time and personalized search

The results page will update while you view it, and without any intervention from you. The real- time search is extended to the whole world.
Also, personalized search has become the default mode, the engine saves your habits and tailors its results.

December 2009.

Indication of country of a site in SERPs

To tell users what is the country of a site for case where the location is usefull, results pages now display the country next to the URL in green. This is for the domains with generic TLDs like .com.
To assign the region, go into GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) in Site configuration -> Settings -> Geographic target.

Decembre 3, 2009Region Tags in Google Search Result. Examples on the Google’s blog.

Links on forum threads in SERPs

Following internal links in SERPs, results now include links to topics of forums that can answer a question. The main link points to a page of the site, and below, indented, threads of forum on the site in connection with the query with the number of the messages and the date.

Google Blog.
September 30, 2009

Links internal to pages in search results : Jump to feature

Snippets belows titles in results pages of Google are now enriched with internal links in pages of websites. When the result of search is on a specific part of the page, a link to it may appear for a direct access.

To enjoy these additional links in results, your pages should be structured with a menu of subtitles linked to subtitles inside the page.
Format of the link in the menu if the subtitle is “car”, for example:

<li><a href="#car">Car</a></li>

Format of the subtitle in the body of the page:

<div id="car">Car</div>

September 26, 2009.

New Interface

The search engine will now be more accessible: the size of the input field has been expanded to have larger characters and thus easier to read.
September 9, 2009.

New search engine, Caffeine.

Google is trying a new search engine that is intended to be faster and to provide more relevant results.
August 11, 2009.

More results from a same site

The results pages are normally limited to two results for the same site, the second being indented under the first.
With the addition of an expansion command represented by the sign +, you can now have a greater number of links to the same site.

Official news.
Image search is improved too with more options.
July 31, 2008.

Titles changed by Google

Some sites have seen the title of their page in the SERPS replaced by the name of their company.
Explanation from Google:

“We may choose to replace titles which are repeated on a number of pages or which otherwise appear to be suboptimal. To resolve that, it would be a good idea to make sure that the titles are unique, compelling and relevant to every page and that the important parts are visible in the first part of the title text.”

And remember that the webmaster tools can identify missing or duplicated titles.
July 18, 2009.

Search on images by license

Google has added the option to search images by license agreement. We can thus retain royalty-free images reusable on our own site.
Image Search.
July 9, 2009.

Search result pages simplified

Search results now resemble Adsense ads. Plus “cache” and “similar” near the link. The size of pages, the word “page” beside similar disappeared.
July 3, 2009.

Less weight for irrelevant backlinks

This is not confirmed officially by Google (who spoke little of its algorithm in any case), but webmasters believe that the results have changed and that positions in the SERPS are lost because they came from quantities of lower quality backlinks.
What are irrelevant links? There are:
– Blogroll.
– Backinks from social sites.
– From directories.
– Backlinks in footers in partner sites.
– Links included in CMS templates.
In fact Google recently announced that it would take no more account of blogrolls. It is without doubt the result. And it is not just a loss of importance to these links: they are no longer taken into account!

With regard to social sites (such as Delicious, Stumbleupon), in contrast, Google said in a roundtable with webmasters: “They are adressed as other sites”.
July 2, 2009.

SERPs: URL shortened

In results pages, the URLs are reduced by an ellipse in the form /…/ to remove sub-directories.
This highlights the name of the site and the name of the file that could contains keywords significant about the topic of the page.
June 23, 2009.

Flash resources indexed

The crawler is able to index Flash application, but now, it can index images and texts uses by these applications too.

Source Webmaster Central Blog.
June 19, 2009.

Explore the Web

A new link appears under the search field: Discovering the Web. A click displays a list of search contexts, such as that of Bing.com from Microsoft.
June 18, 2009.

Google maps out its search results

When a query includes the name of a location, the result page now displays a map of this location.
June 18, 2009.

New effect of the nofollow attribute – Onclick links.

The nofollow attribute let crawlers to ignore a link in a page. So the PR is distributed among the remaining links.
It now appears that the PR is first distributed among all the links (with or without nofollow) and then not distributed to the nofollowed links.
Example: You have 10 points and 5 PR links, 2 points are awarded for each. If two links are nofollow, no PR is passed through them, but others will not receive more points, they will receive only 6 points shared in 3.
The consequences are dramatic, links in comments on a blog would result in lost of PR for other links.

Quoting Matt Cutts:

“Suppose you have 10 links and 5 of them are nofollowed. There‚Äôs this assumption that that the other 5 links get ALL that PageRank and that may not be as true anymore.

More on PageRank and nofollow.

Also, Google takes into account links assigned in the onclick event.
June 2, 2009.

Google Suggest improved

The suggestion list associated with the query box of the search engine is improved with the ability to include hyperlinks, which also allows to integrate advertising in the list.
Buttons are also added.
May 20, 2009.

Show options and Rich Snippets

Google.com present at top of results page a Show options link which provides a sidebar with a list of filters to refine the results by categories.

  • Videos.
  • Forums. Search on threads of discussion for the solution to a problem.
  • Reviews. Useful for selecting products.
  • Over a past period.
  • Date.
  • Related searches. Groups of keywords leading in results the same site and for the request.
  • Wonder wheel. Presents a semantic graph of associations. Very useful for webmasters.
  • Timeline. Returns a list of results by pages created at different times.

The results are also now improved with Rich Snippets. This is additional information to be provided by the webmaster (more work again!). The webmaster adds annotation in a microformat recognized by the parser (including RDF). View the article from Google Making up structured data to enrich your snippets.

Reference: Introducing rich snippets.
May 12, 2009.

Information about forum threads

At the moment, Google is testing locally the display of information on discussion forums that are displayed under the title and above snippet on one line.
The line contains the number of posts, the number of authors, the date of the last post.
The display of the date of an article, retrieved from the page is not new. To disable it, simply put two dates in the page …
May 4, 2009.

Structured Data

Results in graphic and visual data are beginning to appear in search results.
This has been noted by TechCrunch.

This in fact is a reply to the announcement of Wolfram Alpha, the encyclopedic search engine.
April 28, 2009.

Similar Images

Research on improving images with the ability to refine a search using the “Similar Images” command . This is a link under each image displayed that allows you to repeat the search on the nearby images. Google Labs gives an example: if a search for Jaguar displays images of cats and cars, click on the command under cat image, and the search will be reduced to images of cats.
Similar Search.
Google News Timeline. Another new feature: results are organized by graphical timeline.
April 20, 2009.


So far, only the first site in the list of results showed SiteLink. With the recent emergence of horizontal SiteLink, more discreet, Google now shows a line of links for each site, if elected to have SiteLink.
You have control over SiteLinks from Webmaster Tools.
Google Webmaster Central.
April 16, 2009.

Custom Search

It spreads to all users of the search engine. Research results reflect the behavior of the user, if he clicks more often on the pages of a site or a type of site, these pages will appear in further searches at the top of the results, for himself only.

Ref: Personalized search for everyone.
April 12, 2009.

Local Search

Google improves local search, based on the IP address, which allows it to find the country and the city of a visitor. From it, Google tries to show in results sites that are located as closely as possible.
To take advantage of this option requires that the research includes a place name, in which case a map is displayed.
Google’s Blog.
April 4, 2009.

Website Links

New horizontal SiteLinks below the snippets in results pages. Under the descriptions, there was sometimes a single site for a list of links on one or two columns. It can now be reduced to a horizontal bar.
April 2, 2009.


Longer snippets in search result pages.
March 24, 2009.

Brand names

The algorithm gives now more weight to brand name and therefore promotes related sites. This is confirmed by Matt Cutts (head of staff and spokesman of Google) in a video.
The video.
February 26, 2009.

The canonical tag

A new tag tells to crawlers which URL it should index when a page is accessible with multiple addresses.
The duplicate content problem solved.
February 25, 2009.

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