Welcome to episode 70 of This Week Online Today, where I will be talking to you about the big online news that has been happening this week today to make sure that you are ahead of the game when it comes to running your online brand successfully.
And if you have already subscribed to the newsletter, you will also receive an exclusive bonus tip of the week to help you further about this topic.
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In this episode of This Week Online Today, I talk about the following:
- the 31,584 experiments that Google have carried out with the “search quality raters”
- the subsequent 2,453 changes that have launched
- the types of changes could have occured
- how the number of changes per year have dramatically increased over the years
- what you should be aware of and how you should handle these changes
Welcome to This Week Online Today podcast with your host Ahmed Khalifa, where I will be talking about is the biggest online news that has happened this week and why you should be aware of it.
Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll also receive a bonus tip of the week of what you should do about it, and you’ll find that link in the show note.
In the meantime, let’s get straight onto the show.
Yes, what’s up everyone? This is Episode 70 of This Week Online Today. I want to talk about Google as I kind of do a lot really, but I think here’s an important news for everyone to be aware of. Especially if you are like a business owner, you’ve got a website. If you’re a marketer as well, I think it’s important to be aware of this.
Recently, what happened is that a person from Google has been interviewed in CNBC article and I’m going to link that in the show note because I think it’s worth reading.
It goes through a lot of things. It goes through about how they kind of experiment, how they rank the search results, and what kind of changes they make, that kind of stuff. But obviously, it’s kind of very PR-friendly because you’re not going to get too much out of it.
But of course, there are certain things that you can do, which you can read between the lines. But the main thing that I kind of picked up from the article is that Google has told CNBC in the interview that in 2017, they ran 31,584 side by side experiments with the … What you call search quality raters.
As a result of these 31,584 experiment, they have launched 2,453 search changes. Search changes could mean a lot of things because immediately people are thinking they have updated the algorithm 2,500 times.
No, that’s definitely not the case and you don’t have to kind of read between the lines to know that because the search result is a lot of things. It’s not just the algorithm. There’s so much thing to look at when you look at the user interface, and the design, and the tweaks, and you see plenty of them.
Majority are quite discreet because sometimes you see those changes which are font sizes or maybe you see the character limit has been adjusted in terms of the meta description. Sometimes the colouring has changed, you might’ve not noticed it, but there are many, many others which we can’t see, we didn’t know about. Because it’s almost impossible for anyone outside of Google to kind of monitor all the 2,453 changes on the search result.
But there are bigger ones that we’re definitely aware of and it’s quite obvious when it happens.
For example, we’ve seen these bigger changes when they display answers immediately on the search results. If we have a question, you can see immediately, like for example, what is the weather in London? You see that result immediately in Google, you don’t have to click on any search result.
But something like that, get more specific, more detail, and it’s kind of a bit not shady as such, but it’s just a bit controversial. Because Google has been criticised for taking advantage of a website content and displaying it on a search result, and they’ve been slapped on the wrist by the EU for anti-trust. Apparently, $2.7 billion and there’s more investigation to come.
They’re being criticised by a lot of website owners that they’re taking advantage of their content. There’s so many little things like that, Google has been criticised for and this is one of the big changes that we have seen and I see more and more now. It’s just for the users, it’s just all about the user experience because the majority of these changes are the user interface.
Of course, there are some algorithm changes as well, but these are things that Google have not and will not disclose all the algorithm changes. I remember in the past they have disclosed a rough figure, and I remember it used to be said out there.
Someone said in Google, I think that they update the algorithm around 500 times a year and there used to be a guideline that we provide to clients or whoever, that they rough changes per day it’s like once or twice per day. Without you knowing it obviously, majority of them.
But it’s definitely not like that anymore because Google has changed a heck of a lot in just a few years, not just the past 10 years. I remember, I think it was back in maybe 2010, the rule of 500 updates a year, but it’s definitely not like that anymore. There’s one guy on Twitter, I’m going to show that in the show note, he kind of listed the average number of changes that Google has stated they made per year.
Updating the list:
2017/2018: ~2,453 updates;
— Pedro Dias (@pedrodias) September 17, 2018
Roughly, back in 2010 and ’11, they said 500. Around 2012, ’13, 665 updates per year. Then the year after that, 890. Year after that, 1,000. Around 2016 and 2017, around 1,600 updates. Now in 2017, we are 2,453. I’m guessing approximately.
You can see a huge amount of differences has happened in terms of number of updates they make. I don’t know how accurate they are. This is just something that people said out there and it’s like a rough estimate. It’s not something that you should obsess about, definitely not.
But the fact that all these changes have happened and they have done this amount, one thing for sure we definitely know is that Google has been busy, and it will get busier for them without a doubt. We’ve seen more and more changes happening in search alone.
Remember back in episode 54, and if you haven’t, I’ll link in the show note, I’ve talked about the incredible demo of the Google Duplex. Which is when the Google assistant is making phone calls for you. Do you remember that? There was a demo of someone taking a call from a hair salon and talking to a Google assistant on your behalf, which is really scary.
So that change is happening and going to come, it seems. Then there’s all these changes about voice search and the Google home devices that they’re obviously taking very seriously with the voice activated speakers.
Then all these changes about mobile search, that’s a big, big thing. It’s all about mobile search nowadays. Then there’s Android, what are they going to do about that? There’s so many changes. I mean, do you remember when Google used to be about the 10 blue links? You know, when you go to Google, you search and in the past, it used to be just that, just 10 blue links. Definitely not that anymore, is it?
I mean, you can tell yourself by searching for most queries that it’s very rich of information. Lots of type of content there on the search result, which cheekily enough, you don’t have to go to any other website. That’s another story, let’s not talk about that bit.
But at the end of the day, a lot has changed and it’s not about 10 blue links anymore, and it’s going to be even more dramatic I think in terms of the number of changes coming up in the future. We will never know.
So there are things that you should be aware of and as business owners, I would never, never advice you to keep chasing the algorithm. I mean, yes, keep an eye on your performance and keep an eye on your metrics, like your organic traffic and your ranking, that kind of stuff. But don’t neglect the other important metrics when analysing you website.
If you’re not doing that, you should do that at the end of day.
When I say all the metrics, and I’m talking like for example, the engagement factors. Like checking the bounce rate and the exit rate of your website. Or maybe you check the conversion rate obviously, how that’s working, because if there’s a leak in that funnel, then you should maybe just plug it, just kind of close it up and make it easier for people to buy or subscribe, or contact, that kind of stuff.
There’re all these metrics I should worry about, not just chasing algorithm. Because at the end of the day, Google, ultimately, they care more about the users than they care about you. That’s a fact. It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s not about our website, it’s about the users.
All these changes that I said in the beginning, 31,584 side by side experiment with their raters and they’ve launched almost 2,500 of them. You know, these are all experiment that they’re taking and they believe that the users prefer it.
It does means that we get kind of like chopped in pieces as a result of it, or we get pushed down in the ranking, or you get kind of removed or whatever. Then there’s something there that we need to do to make the experience better. That’s all about it, it’s about making experience better for your audience and not about making it better for Google. They’re getting better at understanding that.
So my advice is, don’t chase the algorithm but stay up-to-date. The fact that you listen to the podcast, great, I thank you for that. But stay up-to-date with your SEO knowledge.
You don’t need to be an expert at it because it’s a full-time job as it is to keep an eye on everything, and making the changes, and experimenting, all that kind of stuff. But at the very least you should understand the basic requirements.
Stay up-to-date with the latest changes but just don’t obsess over it if it’s not your field. Now, there maybe times where maybe you should think about outsourcing certain task or even just get some training to make sure that you’re up-to-date, up to scratch with the latest kind of tips on it. Find the best industry practise you should follow.
Maybe you think about doing that as well because there can be severe consequences if you have decided to go too far with experimenting but without doing your research, or without learning about it yourself, or getting training. Actually a case situation where a client of my have accidentally blocked their site from Google.
Imagine if that happened to you? I mean, how would you feel right now if your site is blocked from Google, and you don’t have access, and you don’t know how to fix it. You don’t know what you did, you don’t know what happened. You need to be kind of just be aware of what you’re doing, be careful, just understand how it works in terms of SEO. It’s really very important.
So don’t chase the algorithm, just be up-to-date, stay safe as well in terms of like … Don’t go too far with experimenting. You know, it’s all well and good learning by yourself but sometime you might just want to outsource it and get some extra help. There’s nothing wrong with that.
At the end of the day, nobody knows everything.
So it’s interesting and now I’m thinking right now, I wonder how many, those changes Google will make in 2018. So yeah, all entries are welcome if you want to put your name in the hat about number of changes in 2018.
So have a read again at your article by CNBC. I think it’s very interesting. It gives you a rough idea of how Google works and how they use over, apparently, over 10,000 search quality raters to help them with experiment. They explain it well about how they carry out experiment. It just goes into an overview of that. So again, I’ll put the link in the show note. Check it out and let me know if you have any question.
So, thank you for listening. I hope to hear you again soon, next time. Take care.
Thank you for listening to this episode of This Week Online Today. I really do appreciate it and I hope you find it useful.
If you have enjoyed this show, please do leave a review on iTunes, it would mean the world to me. I really would appreciate that. Thank you again, you rock. One more thing, I just want to remind you to do your thing, because it matters.
And I’ll see you next week.
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