No More than Two: What Google Site Diversity Update Means for Businesses
Do you not get annoyed when you’re watching a sport event only to find the same names appearing at the top of the results? I’ve been somewhat religiously watching F1 for two decades now and for the past few years, Lewis Hamilton has been a near constant presence on the top of the podium. I realize that this is partly because of his and his team’s excellent performance but I also admit that this having to see the same name and national anthem being played at the end of the race is getting kind of boring.
Apparently, the same kind of problem has been plaguing the world of SEO as well, which is the reason why Google, the most dominant search engine, recently implemented a change that’s aimed to make search results more diverse. The change, which for the purpose of this discussion will be referred to as the “site diversity update” is designed to limit results from the same domain and isn’t part of a core algorithm update. For SEO services and marketers, understanding what this change brings to the table is important if you want the best results out of your SEO efforts.
The site diversity update in a nutshell
As with everything Google, there’s precious little we know about this site diversity update other than the few tidbits Google has provided us. From the announcement Tweets, Google states that the idea is to limit two results from a single domain unless in specific cases where the system deems it to be especially relevant. Subdomains are also considered a part of the root domain in this case unless again, in specific cases where the system deems it to be especially relevant.
I swear, being this ridiculously vague and opaque isn’t going to help Google with their antitrust allegations, but if Google still insist on continuing with their lack of transparency, there’s not much else we can do at this point. It should be noted however that this update is in effect only in the main search results page. Image search, video search and other types of search isn’t going to be affected at this update. As can be expected, this update is still undergoing some tweaks even though they’ve already been implemented globally.
To be clear, this isn’t exactly an update in that it doesn’t actually involve any change in the algorithm. This “update” simply changes how the system displays the result for any given query so I admit, referring to this change as an “update” is a bit of a misnomer but I digress. Obviously, this change isn’t as a major as a broad algorithm update but a change is still a change and depending on how you’ve handled your SEO efforts before, this change might prompt a proper rethinking of your strategy.
Try to focus on more than one keyword
The biggest and most obvious conclusion resulting from this change is that websites should start diversifying the keywords they’re optimizing for. It’s a bit pointless to have the entire content of your website to be optimized since at best, only two pages from your website will appear in a given results page. If more than two of your website’s pages have been regularly appearing in the results, you might want to take a look at them now to see if any has been unceremoniously bumped off from the results.
Diversifying your keywords doesn’t mean you have to rework your content from the ground up of course. For example, the words web development and web design are technically different but in practice, they could be used interchangeably for at least 50% of the time. Essentially, this change would mean that you’re going have to be creative in choosing which keywords to optimize for. Even without this change, this is something that I’d normally advise so you might want to think about your keywords one more time.
Pay close attention to the intent of the users
For example, a user typing the words soufflé pancake into Google might be looking for one of two answers; how to make these latest imports from Japan or where to find these fluffy treats near you. The question of relevance is the important issue here so instead of going for the more generic keywords, you’re going to want to focus on keywords that best reflect the user’s intention and the type of content that your website offers. As with the other takeaways, this change should prompt you to play it smarter when it comes to keywords selection and SEO in general.
Find opportunity in adversity
On the other hand, this change would mean that keywords that have been previously been the realm of major domains has been more or less been blown wide open. If there are keywords that you’ve been staying away from because that particular market has been cornered by major brands, now would be a perfect time to give those keywords another look. With a limit of two results per domain, this change should make SEO a more even playing field, which in theory, should be a boon for small businesses that has an edge in the content game but little recognition.