Changes are constantly happening at Google, and in the fast paced digital marketing space, they’ve been occurring largely under the radar. Staying updated on algorithm changes can greatly benefit your search ranking and visibility, organic search traffic, return on investment (ROI), and in the end, your revenue. The algorithms are a way for Google to reward websites for providing optimal user experience and relevant content. While it isn’t necessary to monitor every update that Google launches, it’s important to understand the big changes and adjust your strategy as they occur. The following are a few of the most recent, notable updates from Google that could affect your SEO strategies:
Google Discover isn’t a new update – it was introduced in 2016, but was recently revamped. Discover is a content recommendation engine that suggests content from across the web based on a user’s search history and behavior. The new update includes more images and videos, more personalized recommendations, evergreen content, and toggles to see more or less content similar to the recommendations. On other search engines, content recommendations dominate the users time spent on the site; on YouTube, for example, 70% of user’s time is spent through content recommendations.
Google Assistant allows for users to search the web, schedule events and alarms, show Google account information, and more. Most importantly, it gives users the ability to engage in two way conversations, allowing them to get answers to their queries without looking at the result. Alongside Google Express and Google Duplex, which allows users to make shopping and scheduling easy through Google Assistant, the reliance on using Google search has started to decrease. In order to account for this change, SEO strategy has to leverage the Assistant’s algorithms and emerging technology to fill in the gaps, and to target the kind of behavior that is exclusive to search and search alone.
When Google declared their new direction with their algorithms, they started by clarifying that their old principles wouldn’t be going away. This means that you should continue to put the user first, to be accurate and relevant, and continue meeting Google’s quality rating guidelines.
The new direction for Google Search:
Shifting from Answers to Journeys
Google has started to include a feature to “pick up where you left off”, encouraging the time spent searching queries to shift from short-term answers to bigger, ongoing projects. This includes activity cards that feature previous pages that you’ve visited, the ability to add content to collections, and tabs that suggest “what to learn about next”, personalized to the user’s search history.
From Queries to Queryless ways to provide info
Google Discover is central to this effort and the inclusion of evergreen content, not just fresh content, represents an important change in how Google is thinking about the feed.
Text to Visual Representation
Google is making important changes in how information is being presented by adding new visual capabilities. They’re started to include algorithmically generated AMP stories, video compilations with relevant text (like age and notable events in a person’s life), new featured videos have been added to the search, and notably, the image search has been updated: images featured on pages with relevancy take priority, and the pages where the image is central to the content rank better (captions and suggested searches have been added as well).
SEO After Search
While queries will always be an important part of the way we find information online, we’re now entering a new era of search. Less focus on queries and more focus on the context. This appears to be more than a shift from keywords to topics and leaves us to wonder: Where does our content fit into a user’s journey? What would they have learned before consuming it, and what will they need to know next?
With the future of search increasingly pointing to Google doing more of the “searching” on the user’s behalf, we have to get creative in our thinking about how to hit those algorithms. It’s important for us to keep in mind that surfacing content has never been Google’s priority; it’s always been on providing relevant information. To begin tweaking SEO strategy outside the scope of Google, it’s crucial to shift our strategy to a broader focus.