Yet again the time has come for Google to change its core search algorithm. It seems like it was just yesterday that they released their last update, but nevertheless, we’re still here to help. This can be a stressful time for SEOs and small businesses, worrying about how it might affect your standings on Google, so we’ve put together this handy guide to the update.
But it’s Been Like 6 Days
Google clarified that this update is completely independent of its most recent June 2019 algorithm adjustment. While they address two mutually exclusive topics, you may find that your Google Search Console analytics have been impacted by this dev double whammy. But don’t hit the panic button just yet.
Google claims that there should be little to no impact on your analytics after this diversity update because it isn’t really about ranking—it’s about removing duplicate SERPs.
What is a SERP?
A SERP is a Search Engine Results Page, and up until recently, when you searched for a particular query, half of the top ten results may be from just a single domain. This can make finding the perfect answer to your search query challenging because so many can be so easily overlooked or never seen at all when they’re pushed way down. Less than 20% of users will even click to the second page of search results—91% of all Google traffic ends on the first page. With their newest update, Google will limit this multiplicity to only two results from one domain, which makes way for other SEOs to slide into the top results.
The Break Down
The major change that this Google update set in motion is allowing only two SERPs from the same domain per search result. This move is an attempt to diversify the results you get on any given search, which comes on the heels of years of spicy complaints from searchers and SEOs calling for better SERP management. Finally, here it is, in its early stages.
What Will be Affected?
Ultimately, these changes will only affect core search results—top stories, video snippets, image carousels, map listings, etc will remain unchanged, so your cat video search results will remain untouched. With that said, in the past month some searchers have found and reported several instances of the update not working as promised—6-8 SERPs per query—making this a work in progress.
SERPs are not alone in the update, though! Google took the initiative in improving their Featured Snippets, too. This new adjustment features signs that Google’s algorithm is learning faster than a human child and can now determine what information is fixed and what info is variable. For example, if you ask Google what color the sky is, it will say blue regardless of when you ask it. If you ask Google when the Golden Globes are, the featured snippet will provide the correct date for this year, since it changes every year.
Have No Fear!
In theory, this should be a pretty positive update for small and medium businesses, because instead of seeing 800 top SERPS from Amazon, the online shopping behemoth would be limited to only two spots. However, this may also have adverse effects on businesses that have two pages that rank for the same query—if this sounds like you, you may want to watch your analytics and pray to the Google Gods or talk to your SEO team.
Since Google search rankings are so fiercely competitive by nature, putting a limit on how many times you can rank may seem like it’s only making it more competitive, but diversity is the name of the game.
The Cut Off
If your website features sub-domains, Google says they will be treated as extensions of your main site, meaning if the first result is your home page and the second is your blog, ya done. Larger businesses may find this restrictive, but it’s honestly probably for the better, considering how easy it was for them to build SERP monopolies. This is a real-world example of how Google is trying to improve the experiences of both the searcher and SEO.
To What End?
Of course in classic Google fashion, this protocol can also be overridden if they deem it appropriate. This is most likely for brand-related searches; for example, if one of your search terms is a specific brand name like Apple, Google reserves the right to provide you with more than just two SERPs. That sounds reasonable.
It’s OK to Cry
If you’re worried about how Google’s 2019 updates will affect your site—or if your site has indeed been whammied by the adjustments—the tech giant recommends focusing on making sure your new content is the freshest of the fresh. Content created after the updates will not be affected, so it may be in your best interest to pop out a blog post or two to ensure a return to that hot spot in Google’s ranking. Get writing and before you know it you’ll be ranking higher than you were a few months ago.
Don’t get too hung up on these changes, because it’ll only be a couple of months before there will be more to consider. Just remember: if you’re diligent with SEO and website content, these Google algorithm adjustments won’t do much to hurt your standing in the long run.
Reach out to us if you’re interested in getting an SEO audit or improving your standing on SERPs!