Note: This Interview was originally published on techradar.com
Businesses all over the world are trying their best to get to the top of Google’s search results. A higher ranking means that your website will get more views which in turn leads to more products or services being sold. However, understanding how Google’s algorithms work can be a time consuming process and not everyone is an SEO expert.
To better understand how Google is making its search results more niche-specific, TechRadar Pro sat down with the Director of Searchmetrics’ Digital Strategies Group Björn Beth who filled us in on how these changes could spell the end for generic SEO and content tactics.
Can you tell us in a nutshell what Searchmetrics found about that new Google Algo Update (Medic)?
This update may be no surprise to companies in those industries (except for the losers), since Google specifically calls out health content for overall page quality rating for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. It suggests medical advice should be written by people with medical expertise or accreditation for example.
In a nutshell then, Google has improved the quality and/or relevance of the search results for queries so that pages that better meet the search intent for a keyword have improved their rankings and performance in searches. Google’s Danny Sullivan in a tweet provided advice which is similar to what the search engine has been saying for a long time: To make up any losses in rankings, websites should build great content.
How does that affect different types of websites (e.g. publishers with multiple niches, retailers that sell across multiple verticals, small niche websites etc)
Your report niche ranking factors report mentions a lot of onpage/ondomain signals. What about offpage/offdomain like backlinks etc. Are they still important? Can you say more about them?
Should website owners therefore start to explore other traffic sources?
By the same token it’s also important to play with and test content for new technologies and devices. The future of search will be very different, incorporating voice, visual search and virtual reality which are all on the rise.
In your research, have you seen any particular differences when it comes to mobile vs desktop vs AMP?
For example, searchers on a mobile device are more likely to be searching for something nearby. While on larger desktop screens, they are more comfortable consuming more content elements and more detail. People expect a richer experience and might be readier (and expect) to digest content in greater depth than when viewing short snippets on the move using their mobiles.
This means that it continues to be important to create content for both mobile and desktop users, and to provide an optimised experience for each.
Speed is also likely to be more important on mobile devices – hence the importance of AMP (accelerated mobile pages). AMP started as a way of improving the page download speed of publisher sites so mobile users can read news articles on the move via their smartphones. Now our data and analyses suggests that the benefits of AMP are being sought by websites in other sectors, especially ecommerce, where fast loading pages are an important part of the customer experience.
Google seems to be changing the goalposts every time. What impact do you think it will have on the way content is produced online?
Generally speaking, we see a trend towards optimising the user experience. Paradoxically though, doesn’t it harm the user journey if they are all treated the same (content wise that is).
But the importance of user experience does not mean that pages or content will become similar. Google recognises that what constitutes a good user experience varies according to niche or the search query.
For example too many images can sometimes make pages load slower which generally has a negative impact on the user experience and search performance. However, in our latest Google ranking factors study, we see that Google accepts that queries for an ecommerce niche such as ‘furniture’ are best satisfied by giving searchers the opportunity to view a large selection of relevant images, even if this could result in slower page-load times. In fact the top ten results for furniture-related searches averaged nearly 28 images per page − the highest of all the niches we analysed. By contrast, searches for finance-related topics had the fewest on-page images because text is more important here.
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