Keeping Up: Google’s Latest Changes

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Much to the chagrin of business owners everywhere, Google is always changing the game. However, it can be tough work keeping up with the latest changes and developments with Google. It’s good to stay in the know and monitor the latest changes to keep your head above water.

Failing to respond and adapt to the latest Google algorithm changes could mean that you lose ground to your competitors – and ultimately lose revenue. This month, Google has announced many changes for the future, but the three most relative to the present are the latest refresh of the Panda algorithm, the restrictions placed on the auto-completion API, and the addition of stores’ peak hours.

The Latest Panda Update

It should not come as a surprise that Google has updated their Panda algorithm. As they have stated many times before, they are always looking for ways to fine-tune their algorithms in an effort to make searches more relevant. The end goal is improving their user experience by providing only the highest quality content (and therefore most relevant links) first.

Though the initial introduction of the original Panda update changed the game and had a massive impact on search queries, this update is nowhere near as colossal. That is not the same as saying that it had no effect, though. Google confirmed that the number of affected queries is somewhere between 2-3% of total Google queries. This is a huge number when measured in individual queries, but when you consider all queries on the whole, this is not that drastic of a change.

In addition, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the 2-3% of queries only counts those sites that were negatively affected and lost rankings. On the flip side, this statistic also includes websites that gained rankings. Also, technically speaking, this isn’t truly an update. It’s really more of a refresh.

However, it doesn’t seem that the update is finished. Google announced that the entire update (or refresh) would take place over the “coming months.” Unfortunately, the term “coming months” is pretty ambiguous, and we’re all sure that was worded intentionally by Google. Though we don’t know how much longer it will take to roll out all of the changes, it doesn’t seem as though this refresh is anything to fear. It’s certainly not the next big Google update apocalypse. In fact, there seems to be a general consensus in the Internet marketing community that the changes have gone largely unnoticed thus far.

Google Will Restrict Access to the Keyword Auto-Completion API

Surely everyone who has used the Google search engine is well acquainted with the auto-completion feature. It is so accurate that less-technically-inclined people might think there is a wizard or psychic living inside their computer. However, up until now, the API that offers the auto-completion features has been largely unrestricted. That is to say that developers on other platforms could use the handy tools and features of this API.

However, as of August 10th, this is no longer be the case. Google is closing their doors to the general public with regards to their auto-complete algorithms. They only want the code to be used within their search engine algorithm.

Busiest Store Hours of Local Businesses

Google is even adding another feature to their search engine. They will be implementing a change that will allow users to view the busiest hours of stores in their local area. This has the potential to save people tons of time and add a lot of value to the search engine.

Instead of accidentally visiting a store during its peak hours, waiting in line forever, and wasting valuable time, you will be able to make more intelligent decisions regarding when you visit your favorite local establishments. Whether you just want a cup of coffee, want to hit the gym, or visit your local grocery store, this handy little feature will help you completely avoid the hustle and bustle of peak hours.

However, to begin, this change will only be implemented on Android devices (imagine that!)

Where are they pulling all of this data from?

Apparently, they are gathering data from users that have opted to share their mobile device’s location data. All of this data is, of course, completely anonymous, but it will help people see trends in local establishments to avoid synching up with the rat race. For example, trying to buy groceries after 5:00 p.m. can be a real hassle because everyone else is just getting off of work.

In addition, it doesn’t seem that Google is going to canvas every local establishment, but they do claim that they will target key locations where people a frequently worried about getting caught up in a jam. Furthermore, Google claims that this data can help businesses better understand the habits of their customers and even find ways to target customer traffic during non-peak hours.

These may not be the sexiest, innovate, world-changing updates Google has made, but they certainly are interesting. If you own a website, count your blessings that Google isn’t drastically changing the Internet landscape – for now, anyway.

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