Google has provided its now usual list of major search algorithm and feature updates for January. Several of the changes address spelling suggests and corrections, but there are also improvements to image search and so on.
One thing that Google is boasting about is fresher results. This is an update to the new freshness algorithm that Google introduced last fall. The hope is that fresher results will now be surfaced easier.
The autocomplete feature has been improved, it is now significantly faster thanks to some changes to the underlying technology.
The spelling suggestions in autocomplete have also been improved, they are now more similar to the ones used in the actual search.
The spelling replacement feature has also been improved, it is now more accurate. This feature returns results for a corrected search term when it is highly confident that you've made a spelling mistake.
At the other end of the spectrum, Google boasts that spelling corrections for rare queries should also be improved.
Google has also made some changes to the way it determines the date of a document. The hope is that, with more accuracy, fresher results will be retrieved. The document date in Google searches is quite often wrong, so hopefully, the update will improve this.
Image Search now scrolls the entire page rather than just the images. Until now, the thumbnails were scrolled, but the left sidebar, with the search options and filters remained fixed. It now moves down as well, to be consistent with the main search page.
Image ranking has been updated as well, the change should make it easier for better quality web pages to rank higher than others containing the same image.
A full list of the improvements and changes is available in the Google announcement
. The Panda algorithm update, which deals with low quality sites and content farms, has also received a small update.