The State of Search: Increased Importance on Relevancy

Significant turbulence reported in the SERPs between September 21 and 24 indicates a potential--yet unconfirmed--Google algorithm update. Early observations taken from our clients’ sites point to a potential focus on relevancy, in line with Google’s efforts to better understand search queries (BERT) and yield more relevant results. Members of the search community also reported an increase in site links displayed in the SERPs.

At the end of the month, our sensors reported another spike in volatility which may be a result of Google’s possible canonicalization issue in which the search engine appeared to be selecting a different and irrelevant URL as the canonical version to display in the results for some pages.

September 2020 Search Volatility Chart

Google Tips & Updates

Content & Quality

  • In a recent blog post, Google explains 3 key elements in its approach to quality:
    • Google’s ranking systems were created to discover information that people are likely to find reliable and useful.
    • Search features were developed to help users understand the information they see online and to offer direct access to information from authoritative sources like health organizations and government entities.
    • Google employs policies for what can appear in search features to ensure quality and usefulness.
  • To create quality content, you should prioritize users’ needs; don’t just produce content for the sake of producing content.
  • Rather than recreating content that’s already on your site, Google recommends updating the existing page and moving it to a more prominent place on the site. This will prevent the new content from being mistaken as duplicate.
  • Google primarily refers to the anchor text to understand where a link is pointing to. It’s recommended to use descriptive anchor text vs. “click here” or “read more” which we often see across sites.

Technical SEO

  • This November, Googlebot will start crawling some sites over HTTP/2. As necessary, Googlebot will still crawl sites over HTTP/1.2, so there’s no immediate need to upgrade your server.
  • Google’s John Mueller emphasized that “speed is complex and sometimes confusing” but confirmed that Google is “focused on the Core Web Vitals, which have 3 main metrics.”

Local Search

  • Google My Business added new health and safety attributes that allow businesses to share information about requirements for things like appointments, masks and temperature checks.
  • Google’s updated local ranking guidance confirms that, “more reviews and positives ratings can improve your business’ local ranking.”

What does this mean for you?

We are in the process of analyzing the possible Google algorithm update that took place and will report on significant findings as we review changes experienced by your site and competitor sites. Based on Google’s blog post, the importance of demonstrating E-A-T signals across sites is clear. Google understands that users are looking for the most trustworthy and reliable sources online. In turn, Google has taken extensive measures to fight disinformation and display results from legitimate sites and organizations that users have positive experiences with (think online reviews). We will continue to prioritize quality content and look for more opportunities to improve E-A-T both on and off client sites.

Let’s talk.