Why Google’s Latest Algorithm Change is Easy to Miss

In the past decade, business owners have become savvy online marketers, familiar with the latest trends in web design, mobile computing, and lead generation. It’s not surprising that many follow the changes Google makes to its search algorithm with the same intensity they would devote to the championship game featuring their favorite team. When the world’s largest search engine alters its secret sauce, billions of dollars are on the line.

However, the latest change in Google’s formula has largely gone unnoticed. That’s probably because it doesn’t have an animal-themed name like Panda or Penguin. Instead, it’s a small, behind-the-scenes shift that affects every search in a way that’s easy to miss.

What is this widespread change affecting searches? It comes down to the personalization of queries and results using artificial intelligence filters. Let’s take a quick look at what’s going on, and what it means for your business…

Making Every Search Unique

Google’s proprietary search algorithm was groundbreaking when it was first introduced, and it’s been tweaked or altered several times to keep up with new developments. One problem facing the company, though, is that the Internet is growing so quickly that it’s tough to crawl all the new destinations on the web, much less understand their context and relevance. Users are demanding more and more specific search results, but using a mathematical formula to identify them has its limits.

Given that challenge, it’s easy to see why Google’s designers would embrace artificial intelligence. Supercomputers can do two things static algorithms can’t: evaluate searches and search results for context to get their true meaning, and study user behavior to learn which kinds of search results deliver meaningful data.

And so, Google is using AI filters to try to understand what searchers actually want when they enter a query. High-speed processors figure in location, search history, and word structure to try to identify intent. Then, they can deliver a set of personalized results, see which ones earn activity in the form of clicks or engagement, and then re-order similar queries in the future.

The net of all of this is a system where traditional search algorithms don’t matter as much as they used to, because every search is unique and personalized. Moreover, every crawled site is analyzed on its own merits and considered in a greater context than simple keyword and link profiles.

That’s fascinating from a technology standpoint, but what does it mean for the future of your search engine visibility and marketing campaigns?

Context, Authority, and Engagement are the New Search Signals

In this new artificially-intelligent age of search, it’s less important than it used to be for businesses to have exact keyword matches and other traditional algorithmic tweaks. That’s not to say these factors don’t still matter – they definitely do – but they are losing their power.

More and more, we are going to see search results that are driven by context. That means different users are going to see very, very different search results. Moreover, those results are going to change constantly based on what Google supercomputers see from real-life activity. And, they are going to look for sites that have accepted facts, citations, and user engagement. All of these point to more authority and trustworthiness, which is crucial on an ever-growing World Wide Web.

Smart marketers know this and are expanding their content profile while making their websites more usable. They’re still holding on to traditional SEO tactics, but are also preparing for the near future and building their websites around user engagement rather than old-school search tactics.

It’s been easy to miss the changes affecting Google lately. Is it time for your website to undergo an SEO audit to see how we can bring more searchers to your front door?

About Glenn Brooks

Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.