Businesses large and small are feeling the impact of two June 2019 changes in the Google search engine. Google refers to one as a scheduled core update and the other, dubbed Site Diversity Launch (SDL), is a change in search display results. SDL aims to level the playing field by applying limits to how many Top 10 search positions one company can hold for a single search.
Since this change is so new, some companies might not be aware of its impact to their sites. We advise regular SEO and site audits, but if you don’t currently do that, compare your May 2019 and June 2019 rankings or traffic numbers in Google Analytics. Regular site health checks are crucial as some Google updates arrive like unannounced guests.
Everyone Gets a Turn, Right?
Google Search Liaison Tweeted this on June 6, 2019:
“Have you ever done a search and gotten many listings all from the same site in the top results? We’ve heard your feedback about this and wanting more variety. A new change now launching in Google Search is designed to provide more site diversity in our results. … This site diversity change means that you usually won’t see more than two listings from the same site in our top results.”
Depending on how you look at it, this could be either a beneficial or catastrophic change for many businesses. For example, if your business offers “unicorn rides,” and your site held the rank for 7 of the top 10 Google searches for that keyword on May 31, now you may only have one or two of those slots. Other sites have edged up in search — perhaps those who don’t even provide a unicorn ride service!
By doing some simple B2B keyword searches related to our customers, this change does not always appear to create a better experience for the user. There are Top 10 keyword results that have little to no relevance for the search, yet they hold a high ranking. This hardly seems fair to companies who worked hard to bolster their sites with solid content. If you consistently held more than two spots in the Top 10 prior to June, you’re down to two at most to make room for other guys.
In theory, this change benefits small businesses who have tried to break into the Top 10 for a keyword but have been held at bay by giants such as Amazon. So far, the change perplexes and pisses folks off — especially those who saw their “earned” sites drop in search rank. For example, UK-based publisher The Daily Mail claims a 50% drop in traffic following the two June Google changes. Critics of The Daily Mail’s relevancy to the world of “real journalism” applaud this, but we’ve yet to see how this truly benefits “the little guy.” Savoir Faire’s latest Points of Interest newsletter shares some early data on winners and losers after the change.
Scant data exists on how these latest Google changes benefit small companies, since the update is so fresh. Savoir Faire’s clients have seen both ups and downs in keyword rankings in these first weeks, and we will continue to monitor the SEO health of their sites closely — and act accordingly.
Take Advantage of the Change
Data from Advanced Web Ranking shows click through rate and site rank results through May 2019 as of this writing. Results for desktop searches in the U.S. include:
- The number one rank position receives 35% of all clicks
- Position two drops to 14.8% of clicks
- Position three gets 9% of clicks
- Position four drops to 5.8% of clicks
- At position 10, barely 1% of searchers are clicking
Mobile click-through rates on search results dip even faster in percentage as organic position drops. Results for specific industries vary. For example, one of our clients falls into the Health industry and another in the Business/Industrial industry. The top ranked site in health-related searches receives 22.8% of clicks while the top industrial-related search gets 32.9% of clicks. But by result position five, both industries see clicks at less than 4%. This means that companies need to be in the top three organic results to see meaningful traffic.
If the playing field is seemingly opening with this change, there are some smart things you can do now to attempt to leap into the top rankings. All digital projects should begin with an audit. Start by checking the strength of the technical side of your site. You should have:
- An intuitive user experience
- A streamlined mobile experience
- A fast site, both in page load time and overall
If you have issues there, and don’t address them first, you could end up spending time on the wrong things. If your site is still flawed in those Google-y eyes, it won’t rise in rank. You must fix technical challenges first to ensure a strong presence. Then, take on the next phase, strategically looking for opportunities to elevate your rank for specific keywords.
Then, place a concerted effort on SEO. This is a perfect opportunity to optimize your keywords. An audit helps shine light on areas where your efforts should be focused. Consider these tactics:
- Reoptimize your website with a focus on what matters to your customers the most
- Add content to enhance the user experience and boost your site ranking
- Better content earns more links, but also consider a backlink and internal link strategy
- Aim for more visibility on social media by testing promoted posts and PPC ads on important keywords
- Don’t be afraid to look for long-tail keywords that might have low search volume, but could truly bring the right type of users and dare we say customers to the site
If you’re thinking, “How the heck do I do any of that?”, we’re here to help. Savoir Faire’s Discovery process addresses those pain points in the correct order. We also offer mini-Discovery sessions for emerging businesses or those who want to refocus their marketing efforts on a limited budget. Unicorn rides are optional.
Finally, we take Google updates VERY seriously, as they can have a huge affect — good and bad — on sites we manage, often without warning.
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