As you probably all know, Yahoo has been using the Googlesearch index for its searches since June 2000. Yahoo want to end this before April 2004 and start using the Inktomi search index, with their own crawler: “Slurp“.
As a reaction to that, Google has been improving its search algorithm (more than usual) and about a month ago, they made about five significant changes to their algorithm. We all know what the previous changes (at the end of 2003) did to the results, so let’s hope these are better.
Google increased their index with about 30% and doubled the web images index, as said in this article in the BBC News. To do this, they had to re-include some of the results they dropped in 2003.
The most important item that Google bases its searches on are links. The importance of PR (Page Rank) is slowly being reduced in favor of the inbound and outbound links. This means you now not have to link to the index of a site, because the PR is better than a subpage, but better would be to link to a subpage that is more relevant to the page where you link from. This also means that direct linking to a site is better than a using dynamic URLs and linking to highly respective sites (on a certain topic), will give you more relevant outbound links.
The sites that link to your pages also become more important, since the inbound links are more relevant. One thing to be aware of is what is know as link-spamming. If you own more than one site and are exessively linking from one to another, this will probably not have the positive effect you want.
Google will now not only analise your page, using its keywords but also related words. For example: if the keyword is “Computer” it might also include “monitor”, “keyboard” or even brand names. It would be wise to re-examine your keywords and title. Avoid repetition and include synonyms and related topics.
The traditional tag-based optimization by using bold text or headers, have become a bit less important than they used to be, because they are so easily to manipulate. Favor is now given to linking (see above). This doesn’t mean, however that it’s not important anymore, so keep the correct page-structure.
These are the major changes for now, but expect more to come, since Google constantly tries to improve itself.