Recap of Google’s December Algorithm Tweaking

Google Algorithim Updates

As an ongoing effort by Google to increase transparency for changes to their algorithms, Google has been documenting and publishing the updates for public consumption. The following is a recap of algorithm changes made by Google in December of last year.

While looking at a list of the December algorithm updates from Google, I thought it would be interesting to show the code names associated with them. Codenames are given to updates because they are easier to remember and because they are fun to come up with.

Updates with codenames:

Launch Codename/Project CodenameUpdateNotes
SIMPLEImage Search landing page quality signals.An improvement that analyzes various landing page signals for Image Search.
CONCEPTS/MEGASITELINKSMore relevant sitelinks.Improved algorithm for picking sitelinks.
GREENCRMore accurate country-restricted searches.Uses several signals to better determine where web documents originate; improving accuracy.
LEAFBetter spam detection in Image Search.Extending algorithms used to detect spam in Image Search
FOBYMore accurate byline dates.Improvements to how dates are determined and associatiated for documents.
LIVE RESULTSLive results for NFL and college football.Live results for and ESPN’s NCAA Football results
LYNDSYRelated query improvements.Makes search results more conservative and less likely to introduce results without query words.
BASCHI/CONTRABetter lyrics results.Improves result quality for lyrics searches.
PHO VIETBetter spell correction in VietnameseMore accurate spelling predictions for Vietnamese queries.
MATTERImprovements to image size signal.This is an improvement to how we use the size of images as a ranking signal in Image Search.
SWEATNOVEMBER/SYNONYMSImproved Hebrew synonyms.Refines how Hebrew synonyms are handled across multiple languages.
HOENGG/SAFESEARCHSafer searching.Better filtering for certain queries when strict SafeSearch is enabled.
OLD POSSUM/SKIP REDIRECTFaster mobile browsingUses final smartphone destination url in our mobile search results bypassing redirects to load target page faster.

Other Updates

  • Soft 404 Detection: Some websites are configured to return a different status code instead of a standard 404 error when a visitor requests a page that is missing. This update improves detection of these soft404s, aka "crypto" 404s.
  • More rich snippets: This update was to improve the process for detecting sites that qualify for shopping, recipe and review rich snippets.
  • Better infrastructure for auto-complete: This was an infrastructure change to improve how the auto-complete algorithm handles spelling corrections for query prefixes.
  • Google Instant enhancements for Japanese: For languages that use non-Latin characters, many users use a special IME (Input Method Editor) to enter queries. This change works with browsers that are IME-aware to better handle Japanese queries in Google Instant.
  • Improved dataset for related queries: Sometimes Google will include results for queries that are related to your original search; this improvement leads to results from more relevant related queries.
  • Tweak to +1 button on results page: This change now shows the +1 button only appear when you hover over a result, or when the result has already been +1’d.
  • Upcoming events at venues: This change to the Places Panel allows for the display of up to three upcoming events.
  • Encrypted search available on new regional domains: Google now offers encrypted search by default on for sign-in users. It is not the default on other regional domains ( for France for instance.) Users in the UK, Germany & France can opt in by going to an SSL version of Google Search for their regional domains (ex.

We will be posting monthly blog posts detailing the various updates to Google algorithims as soon as they are posted by Google every month. Stay tuned!

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