Google have made over 40 changes to improve search quality in February 2012.
Some highlights ~
- Consolidation of signals for spiking topics -"We use a number of signals to detect when a new topic is spiking in popularity." Social signals are now very imporant and this will simply increase this year. Hot topics and social peaks can help increase your page ranking results.
- Spam Update - "In the process of investigating some potential spam, we found and fixed some weaknesses in our spam protections." Sounds like a more robust link building profile watch - Google are looking for specific ways in which link buidling is carried out. Google are getting more sensitive to link building methods. They are looking for footprints and markers that many link builders leave behind.
- Link Evaluation - "We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page, in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years." Google appear to be re-evaluating the way they look at the characteristics of anchor links and how these are valued for a website. This probably means the focus will shift back to linked content on the page. This has always been the best strategy - have relevant, interesting content.