In recent months, Google has been running a series on their blog relating to search improvements they make every month. The latest installment carries 30 improvements, from more rich snippets to better spam detection with Image Search. Todd touched on several of the updates, particularly the "Megasitelinks" improvement, how it delivers more relevant sitelinks based on location, and how that impacts SEO in his post on Monday. Here I want to touch on the improvements that have further location-specific implications and are international in nature thus having significant international SEO implications that are important for developers to be aware of.
First, there will be more accurate country-specific searching. Google uses geo-targeting already to deliver accurate and location-relevant information in search queries based on domain type, IP addresses, content, and links, but now this is enhanced. On domains besides ".com," there is now the option to only be given results from your country. There is a new algorithm for this, now utilizing additional signals to establish where online documents are from. This feature makes it easier to rank for specific searches in a given area, certain SEO strategies can be employed to maximize this.
In terms of language, they have instituted a new Vietnamese spelling model that will increase accuracy of the spelling corrections/predictions in Vietnamese search queries. For those that use Input Method Editor (IME) to enter search queries with non-Latin characters, this improvement enhances the capability of various browsers to handle Japanese searches in Google Instant. Also, improvements have been made to Hebrew translation across languages as context is now taken more into consideration when offering synonyms. These enhancements will immediately improve the search experience for many searching in these languages.
Further, encrypted search is now the default for signed-in users on google.com, but not the default on other regional sites like google.de for Germany. Going forward, those in Germany, UK, and France can choose to have encrypted search by going to an SSL version (https:// vs. http://) of their regional Google site. Certain tools for keyword analytics are reduced with this encryption which impacts marketing and the strategies an SEO company employs to optimize websites, and further, with this development, we can assume that more regions will be affected.