3 Major Changes To Google SERPS: 10 Down to 7
Yet again, Google has made changes to its user interface and search algorithm, and the relatively simple developments still spell big impacts on digital marketing strategies and online brands.
As with most, if not all, of Google’s changes to search rankings in the last decade, the latest progressions reflect the company’s commitment to improving the user experience — both by acknowledging their changing behaviours online and anticipating their needs even before they know about them.
In this article, we’ll go through the latest major changes to Google SERPs (search engine results pages), search rankings and new technologies, along with how these new factors will shape the way you approach your SEO strategy going forward.
1st page results down to 7
The headline on this latest suite of changes is that the SERP design has changed again in response to user intent and as a way to provide a UX-optimised layout. Most significantly, search results on a single page are down from ten to just seven, and this may be even fewer depending on other layout features like E-A-T, featured snippets and highlights.
It’s tempting to see the reduced results on Google SERPs as a bad thing for businesses, making it more competitive to stand out from the competitors and get noticed by their target audiences.
However, along with the recently announced changes to how Google structures itself as a search engine, the truth is that sites creating valuable and high-quality content can expect to be rewarded as long as they are backed up by the right SEO strategy.
What is changing the Google SERPs landscape?
As Google continuously
and reiterates its service offering, the search engine is looking to create a more integrated, nuanced and natural experience for users. This will elevate their interactions with Google to more of an informative conversation with a smart virtual assistant than a simple machine that can only return relevant results to narrow queries.
Featured snippets, knowledge graphs and related questions are all ways that Google tries to answer users’ queries without navigating them away from the results page. The content is richer and more immediately satisfying for searchers, but it means that organic search results are being deprioritised in page design, becoming less visible and harder to rank for. This is especially true for long-tail queries.
So, how do sites stay competitive? The key will be for businesses to focus back on their content, ensuring it’s highly engaging, relevant and structured in a readable, digestible way. Producing quality content that aligns with user intent and providing a satisfying solution to a query needs to be at the heart of your SEO strategy.
The rise of AI and voice search technology
With virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Home gaining traction in markets, voice search is increasingly becoming a way that users interact with their search engines. For their part, Google is striving to develop results that cater to voice technology, not just in processing audio inputs but in delivering an experience that’s catered to voice as well.
This means searches are becoming more conversational, creating a dialogue that evolves and takes context into account rather than providing a simple narrow response. Visual search is also emerging as a trend, proving especially valuable for customers looking to identify consumer items they see on social media or in other authentic contexts.
AI plays a vital role in helping Google better understand user queries and give them a more integrated, human-first search experience. Google’s large language model (LLM) called Bard was recently soft-launched in a trial released mainly in response to OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology.
The model is not yet available to the public, but much like ChatGPT, the AI is being promised as a chatbot that can understand queries, interpret their context and provide answers that are both conversational and can synthesise a number of different simple queries into one, long-form answer.
For example, whereas voice search can currently give you the latest temperature or weather forecast in your area, AI could handle a more complicated, open-ended query like “What should I do today?” by using the forecast, local events and previous searches to recommend ideas for activities tailored specifically to the user.
What does this mean for SEO?
For search engine optimisers, the direction Google is headed in gives us clues to the development of the industry from the marketer side of the equation. AI SEO optimisation will become a new tool that can elevate SEO strategy, aiding SEO experts in keyword research, meta descriptions and more.
As featured snippets and knowledge summaries become increasingly common, businesses will need an SEO strategy optimised for these types of information presentations. Thinking about how you present data in different schemas and improving your site for speed, especially on mobile devices, will become ways to stay ranked and relevant on Google.
No doubt shrinking the available SERP real estate will mean changes to click-through rates, SERP diversity and the significance of organic search results. As desktop design makes way for integrated voice search experiences, it’s suggested that the ‘first page’ metric may fade into obscurity altogether, being replaced with an endless scrolling feed that dominates most social media apps.
In the short term, positions seven to ten will no longer drive the same volume of traffic they once did. However, the sophistication of Google’s new algorithm allows marketers to focus on creating the best quality content possible to boost their brands’ authority and usefulness to searchers.
This will mean approaching on-page content with a very intentional and focused approach and partnering with a digital marketing agency with a vision for your SEO strategy reflecting the rapidly evolving SERP landscape.
Need a partner that’s got your back? Our team at Online Marketing Gurus can help establish a comprehensive SEO strategy for you with the major changes to Google SERPs in mind. Reach out today, and let’s start planning your future online!