March 50-Pack: Minor Changes For Significant Rewards

The March 2012 50-pack of updates was announced on April 3rd. It continued to improve on the search engine’s autocomplete feature, indexing, and sitelinks. These minor changes ensured that the search engine delivered relevant results to users for each query.

What’s It For?

There was also an improvement on how it handles password changes and a UI refresh for News Universal. Other developments include data update and freshness improvements for high-quality sites, image search signals refinement, SafeSearch algorithm tuning, tweaks to anchor text handling, and better synonym accuracy and performance.

To recap, these are the notable changes:

  • Anchor Text Tweaks – There were two specific updates for anchor text. The team retired one classifier since other methods of anchor processing were more successful, and they also improved the systems for interpreting and using anchor text. These changes developed how relevant a given anchor would be to a user’s query.
  • Image Search Changes – The image search changes focused on the quality of the pages on which the media appears. Signals were tuned for landing page quality for pictures and updated to highlight reasonably-sized photos on high-quality landing pages.
  • News Groupings – The search engine improved the scoring systems that determine the groupings of news results. This improved the ranking of news clusters.
  • Indexing Symbols – Google no longer ignores several punctuation marks and symbols in queries. With this update, they started indexing heavily-used special characters such as @, %, #, /, ., and +. The team also confirmed that they’d continue indexing this type of characters as usage warrants.
  • Sitelinks – The offline data process that helps in the generation of sitelinks was updated. With the tweak, it improved in analyzing site structure to display the most relevant links on the SERPs. The team also expanded the sitelink feature on mobile that better organized and presented sitelinks in the results pages.
  • +1 Button – Google rolled out the +1 button to more countries and domains. This allowed users from all over the world to share recommendations to each other, particularly for friends in the same social circle.
  • Navigational Queries – One update for navigational queries involved facilitating a user’s quest to find a particular website and displaying the best results even when they don’t know the exact URL. Another improved the balance of results that the search engine shows.

What Were Its Effects

The March 2012 50-pack of updates did not shake up the SERPs. It was simply a set of minor tweaks in the algorithm that improved on factors that still had influence on ranking albeit only slightly. A significant change was on anchor text which signals that Google continues to rely on links to determine the authority of a website.

What It Means for You

Google keeps on improving how it processes and interprets anchor texts in or to your website to display the most relevant results to users’ queries. The search engine views the anchor text that other pages use to link to your site as a reflection of how other people see your page and to determine what a particular post is all about.

There are various types of anchor texts:

  • Exact-Match – An exact-match anchor text pertains to a keyword that mirrors the title of a page that it links to such as “best summer shorts for women” for a post that talks about the best summer shorts for women.
  • Partial-Match – Partial-match anchor texts are when you tweak a few words to make it sound more natural; for example, using the anchor text “high-quality summer shorts for women” instead of the page title itself.
  • Branded – It’s when a brand name is used as anchor text. Choosing a memorable yet unique company name is crucial before you start your business to make sure that people remember your brand.
  • Naked Link – This type of anchor text uses a URL instead of keywords.

When writing a guest post where you incorporate your link, you must make sure that your anchor text is SEO-friendly by:

  • Making It Concise – There’s no specified length limit for anchor texts, but it’s recommended to make it as brief as possible without decreasing the description of a page. Also, make sure that you don’t make it too keyword-heavy since Google might become suspicious that the link wasn’t acquired naturally.
  • Ensuring Link Relevancy – Don’t use anchor texts to mislead readers to get clicks. The anchor text you write should provide visitors with a general idea about what information they can find when they view your link.