If Google were a superhero, it would be the Avengers. If Google had a superpower, it would be the ability to purchase other superpowers. If Google ran the world, well, they pretty much already have an iron grip on the World Wide Web…
Google currently possesses 75.2% of the U.S. search market, as of this January, and 81.7% of the U.S. mobile search market, as of March 2014. When Google adjusts an algorithm, like their 4/21/15 mobile update, it has the potential to impact businesses, big and small.
Even with its current dominance of the world’s Internet usage, Google still maintains an air of secrecy with regards to any upcoming updates. It’s not that the Google team wants to keep businesses, marketers and users out of the loop, but that innovation takes time, and nobody stays in power if they reveal their algorithmic tricks.
Ignoring the secrecy and lack of upcoming announcements, a trend has started to emerge. Although the following are merely predictions, based on competitors and recent changes, it is clear that Google is moving towards a more user-friendly experience.
Google’s Last big Update: Mobile Friendly
Let’s quickly analyze the 4/21/15 mobile update before looking forward. In order to cater to the increasing number of mobile Internet users Google adapted how it ranks websites on mobile searches. Websites that are not responsive, or do not have a mobile version, were bumped downwards on Google’s search rankings while websites that were mobile-friendly saw their rankings rise.
With users in mind, Google has forced websites that are easier to use higher up in their lists. Mobile searches are on the rise. 94% of USA smartphone users search for local info on their phones. In order to be relevant, websites have to ‘get with the times, man’. Google doesn’t want outdated, difficult to use, sites bogging down the top of their searches. They want us to have the easiest experience possible.
While the current system incentivizes keywords and backlinks, it is not hard to imagine Google moving somewhat away from these metrics and instead continuing their user experience trend. Questions like the following will hold a greater weight on how a website ranks:
Does the website adapt to what screen/device it is being viewed on? What is the site’s bounce rate? How long do users spend on the page? How often is the site updated?
Currently, 55% of website visitors spend 15 seconds on a website. In order to ensure people are finding what they are searching for Google will prioritize websites in which people spend more time viewing. Google wants us to find what we’re looking for, not to click a site and disappointingly exit out after two seconds.
Constantly updating, whether content on existing pages or adding new pages to a site, will add more leverage to a site in than it currently does. Instead of focusing on adding a smorgasbord of specifically targeted words, adding content will prove that the site is keeping its information fresh. Sites that do not update will, hopefully, fall down in rankings. Google will doubtless develop algorithms to estimate how often a website should be updated based on it’s niche – for example, a news website should likely be updated more often than a plumber’s website.
The Knowledge Graph
Google currently tries to know and understand what you’re searching for, and most of the time its algorithm is right! Displayed on the right of many Google searches is the knowledge graph. It is comprised of data such as pictures, contact information, statistics, and reviews (depending on the search).
This presumed information would become more prevalent on all searches, and possibly be the default click on devices with smaller screens. Google will use the knowledge graph to quicken searches and time spent clicking. If you were using Google on a smart-watch, for example, and looked up a local bike shop, wouldn’t it be nice if it automatically brought you to closest shop’s website? Google does know your location, after all, which brings us to…
Your location, or your store(s) location for that matter, will continue to become more and more relevant. Depending on what you and/or others are searching and based on where they are, the results will differ greatly. This will have a much larger impact on smaller, one-shop, businesses. As we continue to add the Internet to more and more items that we wear daily, our location is going to matter more and more.
What’s nice about these predictions is that it has consumer’s best interests in mind. Businesses and advertisers will have to adjust their marketing plans, but being that these are predictions, we recommend waiting. Still, it’s always fun to imagine what the next Avenger’s movie will be about, and what our next Google update just might be…
Josh Gershonowicz is the founder and CEO of Rebuild Nation, a marketing firm which focuses on the dental and health industry.