"Since day one, Google's mission has been to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." (Search On with Google) These were the wise words of Google's Senior Vice President, Prabhakar Raghavan, during the Search On '21 Conference.
He continued, "We've seen more traffic to the open web than any year prior. This is a trend that has continued every year since Google was first created."
As a result of increasing usage, Google's search algorithms have become radically more natural and intuitive, helping users unlock more insights than ever before. As the platform continues to advance, marketers need to update their SEO knowledge to keep ranking high in organic search results.
In other words, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies that worked years ago don't apply anymore - especially after this update!
Keep reading to learn how Google has changed how to win the #1 spot in search results in 2021.
The next generation of organic search results will be heavily impacted by artificial intelligence (AI). Google announced they are using AI to help users find answers to their everyday questions - and decide what to search for next.
The introduction to the AI-powered algorithm is a continuation of Google's Multitask Unified Model (MUM) update that arrived in June 2021. As a reminder, the goal of MUM is to deliver organic search results that overcome formatting and language barriers to offer an improved user experience.
MUM is one of the first AI models that are truly multi-modual. Google states that "It can simultaneously understand information across a wide range of formats like text, images, and video."
Additionally, MUM eliminates the need for users to carry out countless searches to gain deeper insights into their queries. For example, say a search query asked the question “Will I find the same weather in New York City as Chicago?”
A user would normally have to dig through various web pages to find that comparison. The dynamic duo of AI and MUM will allow Google the ability to answer comparison-style questions right in search results. Wow!
Artificial intelligence has been a growing marketing trend for years - and Google is only amplifying that. It is a skill we recommend every marketer become acquainted with. For more information, read “3 New Marketing Manager Skills to Adopt.”
Imagine a user is scrolling Facebook and sees a photo of a friend wearing a bold-patterned shirt. Perhaps the user likes the design, but not on a shirt. They want that same look on a new pair of socks! The user simply needs to take a screenshot of the photo and upload it to Google Lens.
Google Lens automatically finds other shirts with a similar pattern to the shirt in the screenshot. However, with Google's new update, the user can now add text to help narrow down the search query. Adding "socks with this pattern" puts Google to work comparing the design in the image with the text query.
Shortly after - bam! Google displays recommendations for both large online retailers and local shops that carry similar-looking socks. Additionally, Google will show other related content from across the web - such as matching sneakers with similar patterns contained in the original screenshot.
Google has driven the way content is published, focusing heavily on target keywords, user intent, domain authority, and other key factors. While those components will still be relevant today, marketers must now also include multi-modal elements in their content strategy.
Over the years, Google has added tools to help people check the facts behind organic results and dig deeper. This initiative began with the feature, "About This Result." The tool allows users to tap the three dots on any search result to see helpful context before visiting a web page.
Today, Google is placing an even stronger emphasis on giving users access to the relevant and credible information behind each search result.
Google plans to continue investing in greater information literacy features and adding even more context to "About This Result." The goal is to present users with quality information to better evaluate and understand the sources of information they find.
Text-based content such as blog posts and long-form guides will continue to be a key player in attracting website traffic. Previously, Google recommended ranking factors such as including target keywords and links to relevant content.
Today, there is increased importance in adding multimedia formats to your written content. Think images, videos, embedded audio, and social media embeds. Incorporating these supporting mediums alongside written content will result in a more favorable ranking from Google.
Google MUM’s focus to eliminate language barriers significantly widens competition to web pages around the world. With that being said, the less work the Google algorithm has to do, the better your website will rank.
Therefore it could be wise to start adopting a multilingual SEO approach. In other words, start optimizing your website content for different languages. As a result, your website becomes more searchable in new markets and for new people.
Additionally, in this new AI-driven environment, some marketers might be wondering if SEO will still be relevant. Not to fear, it is - and likely always will be.
John Mueller, a Senior Webmaster at Google said, "I don't really see how this would reduce the need for SEO. Things always evolve (Search Engine Journal)."
While new updates and announcements like this can seem overwhelming, your target user needs to remain a top priority. Do not go overboard when making website updates to appeal to the Google algorithm if it results in a poor user experience.
If Google's mission is to make information accessible and useful, shouldn't yours be the same?
Google's continual updates mean fewer tricks for scammy marketers to hide behind. To rank high on organic search results, brands must create MUM-friendly content that is relevant and valuable to their target audience.
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