Last month, Google outlined 40 updates to its search algorithms, user interface and language settings. The record amount of changes brought about in February can be generally sorted into three main categories encompassing the most important changes: image and video search, local search and content freshness.

Image searches are growing in popularity every day, and Google is racing to answer this trend with improvements to their user experience, most recently consisting of:

  • More consistent thumbnail sizes on the results page
  • Improved SafeSearch detection and management of adult content
  • Emphasis on bringing out fresher images

Video search has been given some attention as well, through improved video channel snippet display in search results. Youtube, after all, is the second most popular search engine in the world and one of the top 3 most visited sites on the Web. Non text-based results are important, and these improvements signal that serious attention is being paid to them.

Local search is also a crucial area that has been given much attention by Google in recent years, and this latest volley of updates continues that trend:

  • More locally relevant predictions in YouTube
  • Improvements to ranking for local search results
  • Better detection of relevant results within a user’s city

Google’s desire to better serve more relevant ads to potential customers benefits local businesses in significant ways. A website optimized for local search is key to the success of a business and its importance is growing with every update Google unrolls.

Finally, building on past algorithm updates Panda and Fresh, Google put more emphasis on fresh, up-to-date content in search results:

  • Improvements to algorithms surfacing fresh content more rapidly
  • Disabling of two old fresh query classifiers –removal of outdated algorithms
  • Panda update making it more accurate and sensitive to recent content changes

Content is still king with these latest updates, and it’s now not just about text. Images and videos are becoming more relevant and easier to search, while results are being brought out by local relevance. From a business perspective, Google’s actions are dictating that proper web design, multimedia content and local search engine optimization are top priorities when it comes to staying on top of searches and connecting with potential customers.