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New Algo Changes at Google

Written by David Harry   
Tuesday, 24 March 2009 15:08

Is Google going to hijack your content?

There’s been a fair amount of buzz going around today about the ‘2 New Improvements at Google’, one of which (as noted by the Author ‘Ori Allon’ and Search Engine Land), if not both, are related to the ‘Orion’ acquisition back in 2006. It seems an interesting implementation of the technology given the hub-bub at the time.

Essentially, the algorithm detects related concepts to a query and then it “returns a section of those pages, and lists other topics related to the key word so users can pick the most relevant.” – Which is interesting as ‘sections’ really does start ringing bells for page segmentation for me. Anyway, that’s for another day.

Part one, the search refinements, are more of a categorization and concept targeting system. Now, the refinements are fine really, something we can deal with… the second part, longer snippets, is slightly more concerning.

Ori Allon

Longer Snippet? How much is too much?

The second improvement is longer snippets (text shown in the SERPs). Now, I do understand more complex queries can call for more complex snippets, but what happens if this grows deeper? Google starts actually answering queries with the text it retrieves? That is essentially answering the questions with your content. Thanks there Google gang, nothing I like better than paying the hosting for you to serve up (and monetize) my content.

In the post they mention,

“When you enter a longer query, with more than three words, regular-length snippets may not give you enough information and context. In these situations, we now increase the number of lines in the snippet to provide more information and show more of the words you typed in the context of the page.”

Essentially as query lengths are increasing, so thus are the snippets. This means that your targeting and meta data creation could be more defined in the long tail than the short. This means providing for such cases within the content becomes more important. What I advise is creating lists of not only target terms, but related concepts and phrasings to the core targets of a page.

Google expanded snippets

What is more troubling are some of Ori’s comments in an interview back in 2005, where he described it as;

“The results to the query are displayed immediately in the form of expanded text extracts, giving you the relevant information without having to go to the website – although you still have that option if you wish,”

I find it troubling that Google starts to actually serve up the sought after information, although NOT created by Google. Yes, it’s wonderful to help the end user, but this also keeps them on Google more, thus increasing monetization opportunities. Time to break out the tin foil hats kids.

How long does a 'snippet' become until it's serving sections of your page... containing the information?

And so the searcher never leaves Google and you are creating content for them ... at your own expense?


Creating concepts and themes

OK, so enough of the tin foil accessories, back to business. What does any of this mean to our data to day optimization? From an SEO standpoint, what is important is that this further highlights the need to create themes and concepts clearly (as mentioned in last week’s newsletter). I would also suggest revisiting the concepts relating to page segmentation as well.

Much like the phrase based IR, which a new patent was recently awarded to Google, themes and concepts are something to consider more and more of late.

We’re also keenly aware that they have 2 major areas of interest at Google (search wise) – behavioural targeting and context/concepts. This is in the paid search sector as well as the (cough cough) organic search. All of this means broader targeting processes which we’ll try and get into more soon.


/end tin foil hat session



Other stuff;

When last seen here on the trail we were wondering – What ever happened to Orion – here’s a few highlights;

The Patent sold to Google - “A method and a system for facilitating ranking of textual information” Allon, Ori; Martin, Eric: Newsouth Innovations Pty Ltd, number 205906358

Danny (Sullivan) got in on that action at the time, but cautioned;  “So my reality check alarm is mainly for anyone who thinks Google's going to suddenly change because Allon and this extraction algorithm are now at Google. He gives Google another good employee, and the technology will probably give Google another evolutionary change that may improve things over time, rather than instantly.”

One thing I’ve seen batted around is it being a ‘semantic’ technology, and Greg Sterling said it best with; “Some people will use the term “semantic search” to describe the technology behind the new refinements. But that term has largely been drained of meaning through excessive use in my opinion.” - The semantic web is an entirety different animal, so let’s not go there ok?

More Orion thoughts and resources; Dave Davies had a great write up back in July of 2006 with – Google Orion, SEO and you - Jennifer LeClair posted – Google Aquires Orion search engine -



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