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Panda Algorithm Update Released, Impacts 2.4% of English Queries – Google Warns of New State-Sponsored Cyberattack Through Gmail

Update 10/05: A massive list of 65 search quality changes to made in the August and September 2012 has been posted on the Google search blog. Without further ado, and as per Google post –here is the list highlighting August search updates:

  • #82862. [project “Page Quality”] helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #83197. [project “Autocomplete”] introduced changes in the way we generate query predictions for Autocomplete.
  • #83818. [project “Answers”] improved display of the movie showtimes feature.
  • #83819. [project “Answers”] improved display of the MLB search feature.
  • #83820. [project “Answers”] change improved display of the finance search feature.
  • #83384. [project “Universal Search”] improves driving directions in Turkish.
  • #83459. [project “Alternative Search Methods”] added support for answers about new stock exchanges for voice queries.
  • LTS. [project “Other Ranking Components”] We improved our web ranking to determine what pages are relevant for queries containing locations.
  • Maru. [project “SafeSearch”] update improve the handling of adult video content in videos mode for queries that are not looking for adult content.
  • #83135. [project “Query Understanding”] change updated term-proximity scoring.
  • #83659. [project “Answers”] made improvements to display of the local time search feature.
  • #83105. [project “Snippets”] refreshed data used to generate sitelinks.
  • Imadex. [project “Freshness”] change updated handling of stale content and applies a more granular function based on document age.
  • #83613. [project “Universal Search”] change added the ability to show a more appropriately sized video thumbnail on mobile when the user clearly expresses intent for a video.
  • #83443. [project “Knowledge Graph”] added a lists and collections component to the Knowledge Graph.
  • #83442. [project “Snippets”] change improved a signal we use to determine how relevant a possible result title actually is for the page.
  • #83012. [project “Knowledge Graph] displays factual information and refinements related to many types of searches. This launch extended the Knowledge Graph to English-speaking locales beyond the U.S.
  • #84063. [project “Answers”] added better understanding of natural language searches for the calculator feature, focused on currencies and arithmetic.
  • nearby. [project “User Context”] improved the precision and coverage of our system to help you find more relevant local web results. Now we’re better able to identify web results that are local to the user, and rank them appropriately.
  • essence. [project “Autocomplete”] change introduced in entity predictions autocomplete. Now Google will predict not just the string of text you might be looking for, but the actual real-world thing. Clarifying text will appear in the drop-down box to help you disambiguate your search.
  • #83821. [project “Answers”] introduced better natural language parsing for display of the conversions search feature.
  • #82279. [project “Other Ranking Components”] changed to fewer results for some queries to show the most relevant results as quickly as possible.
  • #82407. [project “Other Search Features”] “For pages that we do not crawl because of robots.txt, we are usually unable to generate a snippet for users to preview what’s on the page,” informs Google. This change added a replacement snippet that explains that there’s no description available because of robots.txt.
  • #83709. [project “Other Ranking Components”] change was a minor bug fix related to the way links are used in ranking.
  • #82546. [project “Indexing”] made back-end improvements to video indexing to improve the efficiency of our systems.
  • Palace. [project “SafeSearch”] change decreased the amount of adult content that will show up in Image Search mode when SafeSearch is set to strict.
  • #84010. [project “Page Quality”] refreshed data for the “Panda” high-quality sites algorithm.
  • #84083. [project “Answers”] change improved the display of the movie showtimes search feature.
  • gresshoppe. [project “Answers”] updated the display of the flight search feature for searches without a specified destination.
  • #83670. [project “Snippets”] made improvements to surface fewer generic phrases like “comments on” and “logo” in search result titles.
  • #83777. [project “Synonyms”] change made improvements to rely on fewer “low-confidence” synonyms when the user’s original query has good results.
  • #83377. [project “User Context”] made improvements to show more relevant local results.
  • #83484. [project “Refinements”] change helped users refine their searches to find information about the right person, particularly when there are many prominent people with the same name.
  • #82872. [project “SafeSearch”] “In “strict” SafeSearch mode we remove results if they are not very relevant,” Google blogged. This change previously launched in English, and this change expanded it internationally.
  • Knowledge Graph Carousel. [project “Knowledge Graph”] change expanded the Knowledge Graph carousel feature globally in English.
  • Sea. [project “SafeSearch”] change helped prevent adult content from appearing when SafeSearch is in “strict” mode.
  • #84259. [project “Autocomplete”] change tweaked the display of real-world entities in autocomplete to reduce repetitiveness. With this change, we don’t show the entity name (displayed to the right of the dash) when it’s fully contained in the query.
  • TSSPC. [project “Spelling”] change used spelling algorithms to improve the relevance of long-tail autocomplete predictions.
  • #83689. [project “Page Quality”] launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #84068. [project “Answers”] improved the display of the currency conversion search feature.
  • #84586. [project “Other Ranking Components”] change improved how we rank documents for queries with location terms.

Here’s the September highlights:

  • Dot. [project “Autocomplete”] improved cursor-aware predictions in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages. Suppose you’re searching for “restaurants” and then decide you want “Italian restaurants.” With cursor-aware predictions, once you put your cursor back to the beginning of the search box and start typing “I,” the prediction system will make predictions for “Italian,” not completions of “Irestaurants.”
  • #84288. [project “Autocomplete”] change made improvements to show more fresh predictions in autocomplete for Korean.
  • trafficmaps. [project “Universal Search”] change began showing a traffic map for queries like “traffic from A to B” or “traffic between A and B.”
  • #84394. [project “Page Quality”] launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #84652. [project “Snippets”] “currently generate titles for PDFs (and other non-html docs) when converting the documents to HTML. These auto-generated titles are usually good,” Google said. But this change made them better by looking at other signals.
  • #83761. [project “Freshness”] change helped you find the latest content from a given site when two or more documents from the same domain are relevant for a given search query.
  • #83406. [project “Query Understanding”] improved Google’s ability to show relevant Universal Search results by better understanding when a search has strong image intent, local intent, video intent, etc.
  • espd. [project “Autocomplete”] change provided entities in autocomplete that are more likely to be relevant to the user’s country. Check this blog post.
  • #83391. [project “Answers”] change internationalized and improved the precision of the symptoms search feature.
  • #82876. [project “Autocomplete”] updated autocomplete predictions when predicted queries share the same last word.
  • #83304. [project “Knowledge Graph”] change updated signals that determine when to show summaries of topics in the right-hand panel.
  • #84211. [project “Snippets”] launch led to better snippet titles.
  • #81360. [project “Translation and Internationalization”] launch began showing local URLs to users instead of general homepages where applicable (e.g. blogspot.ch instead of blogspot.com for users in Switzerland). That’s relevant, for example, for global companies where the product pages are the same, but the links for finding the nearest store are country-dependent.
  • #81999. [project “Translation and Internationalization”] revamped code for understanding which documents are relevant for particular regions and languages automatically (if not annotated by the webmaster).
  • Cobra. [project “SafeSearch”] updated SafeSearch algorithms to better detect adult content.
  • #937372. [project “Other Search Features”] “The translate search tool is available through the link “Translated foreign pages” in the sidebar of the search result page. In addition, when we guess that a non-English search query would have better results from English documents, we’ll show a feature at the bottom of the search results page to suggest users try the translate search tool,” Google explains. This change improved the relevance of when we show the suggestion.
  • #84460. [project “Snippets”] change helped to better identify important phrases on a given webpage.
  • #80435. [project “Autocomplete”] change improves autocomplete predictions based on the user’s Web History (for signed-in users).
  • #83901. [project “Synonyms”] change improved the use of synonyms for search terms to more often return results that are relevant to the user’s intention.

google pushes panda algorithm update 20, affecting 2.4 percent of english search queries

Google has confirmed that they’ve pushed out a new Panda algorithm update and that affects “about 2.4% of English queries to a degree that a regular user might notice.”

Google also noted, that there is more to come with this update, as the search company promises to “roll out more updates to this release of Panda algorithm over the next 3-4 days. “

Below is a comment from Google’s head of spam Matt Cutts sent after the update happen:

“Google began rolling out a new update of Panda on Thursday, 9/27. This is actually a Panda algorithm update, not just a data update.

A lot of the most-visible differences went live Thursday 9/27, but the full rollout is baking into our index and that process will continue for another 3-4 days or so.

This update affects about 2.4% of English queries to a degree that a regular user might notice, with a smaller impact in other languages (0.5% in French and Spanish, for example),” Cutts said (via Search Engine Land).

google warns through gmail of state-sponsored cyberattck

In other Google news, the New York Times is reporting that Google has begun warning users that their accounts could be at risk from government-organized cyber-attacks as the firm looks to educate users of the risks they face on the web.

Back in June this year, the company had begun alerting users to malicious — “probably state-sponsored” — activity on their computers through a message at the top of their Gmail inbox. And, since than it has picked up thousands more instances of cyberattacks than it anticipated.

The messages appearing on Tuesday, stating: “Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer”, the NYT reproted.

A Google manager on information security team, Mike Wiacek, said in an interview on Tuesday that since Google started to alert users to state-sponsored attacks three months ago, it had gathered new intelligence about attack methods and the groups deploying them. He said the company was using that information to warn “tens of thousands of new users” that they may have been targets, starting on Tuesday.

Wiacek added, Google had seen an increase in state-sponsored activity coming from the Middle East. He declined to call out particular countries, but he said the activity was coming from “a slew of different countries” in the region.

Several people — many of them American journalists and foreign policy experts have already reported on Twitter of having received the warnings from Google:

Gmail tells me that state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise my account or computer. Looks like I’ve arrived!
— D. Gartenstein-Ross (@DaveedGR) October 2, 2012

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