Google has announced some key updates to its Search algorithms which will look to highlight more valuable results, created for humans, as opposed to web pages that have been designed purely with SERP ranking in mind.
Google’s main target with these new updates is low quality aggregator sites, which aim to match up with common search terms in order to suck in more Search traffic.
Now, Google says that it will put more emphasis on content quality and depth, which could spark a change in broader SEO approach.
As explained by Google:
“Next week, we'll launch the “helpful content update” to tackle content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people. This ranking update will help make sure that unoriginal, low quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search, and our testing has found it will especially improve results related to online education, as well as arts and entertainment, shopping and tech-related content.”
The update, as Google says, is aimed at low quality sites that have been constructed purely to game the algorithm, by including specific keyword matches and data notes that align with key Google search trends.
In other words, if you’re creating shallow content based purely on keyword matching, in order to rank in Search, you may soon see a dip in your SERP rankings.
“For example, if you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously seen articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere. This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique, authentic information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven't seen before.”
As always, Google wants to ensure that users get the most relevant, helpful results, which are generally not provided by aggregator sites or those constructed purely with Search rankings in mind. That could reduce the value of common SEO tactics, like using exact search terms in your headers, and keyword stuffing (which is already bad practice).
The change shouldn’t impact sites that are genuinely creating helpful, in-depth content on a specific topic. Really, the bottom line is that you should be creating content with your audience in mind, with Search being an afterthought in the process.
Though it’s difficult to give specific guidance, as we don’t know what the full impacts will be at this stage. Again, it shouldn’t impact most sites, which are not designed to game Google’s systems, but it may be worth keeping an eye on your Analytics data in the coming months.
Google’s also announced a new update to its review ranking process, designed to surface quality, helpful reviews in Search results.
“Last year, we kicked off a series of updates to show more helpful, in-depth reviews based on first-hand expertise in search results. We've continued to refine these systems, and in the coming weeks, we’ll roll out another update to make it even easier to find high-quality, original reviews. We’ll continue this work to make sure you find the most useful information when you’re researching a purchase on the web.”
Similar to the helpful content update, Google’s review focus is designed to highlight more product reviews that share in-depth research, ‘rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products’.
So if you’re looking to incorporate product reviews and UGC into your website, you’ll want to try to include more in-depth info, as opposed to quick hitter quotes and one-liners.
Again, the main focus for Google is to keep providing quality, informative results in Search, which answer the questions that searchers have when they come to its apps. The better you can do this, in detail, the better your Search performance should theoretically be.
It’d not always this simple, but these updates underline Google’s focus on providing more in-depth responses and original content, as opposed to summarized, aggregated answers.