This past week, a couple of things happened. First, Google pre-announced a core algorithm update. This is unusual in that Google doesn’t normally announce these updates before they happen. The name of the update is June 19 Core Update. It’s not the topic of this article, but I think it’s important to mention for two reasons:

  1. The Diversity Update is completely separate from the Core Algorithm Update. Although they occurred around the same time, they do different things.
  2. Scammers are out in force after every algorithm update. I want you to know that no one knows what has changed in this update, and no one is able to tell you. If someone is offering you a magic pill referencing this algorithm, it’s a poison pill.

So what is the Diversity Update?

Keeping things simple, the diversity update is about bringing in more diverse search results. For certain searches, a single company would often dominate the entire first page of Google. In home services, that website was often Yelp. This has been a regular complaint of business owners who feel that Yelp is an unethical player in the market, and also a complaint of SEOs. Our community has been directly appealing to Google representatives on forums and social media to make some changes, and those changes finally came through. This is supposed to prevent things like Yelp taking the top 8 organic listings for searches like “nail salons tustin” (credit to Tom Waddington for highlighting this query).

Google’s diversity update has been designed in such a way to regularly limit a website from taking more than two spots on the page, except for certain limited queries. In cases like the above search, Google has stated that they will continue to make improvements, so we shouldn’t continue to see these types of results much longer (we hope).

However, a brand search could likely still display for more than two positions. If you search “black friday deals”, the site blackfriday.com shows up in the top three spots. Because it’s their brand, and the domain name is an exact match for the search, they’re getting something like a free pass. Dan Foland originally highlighted this query to Google, so we have some great historical comparisons here. In his original sample, there were only four independent websites dominating the entire page. Now, there are seven. So this goes to show that branded queries and/or exact match domains likely have some staying power, even against this update.

What about SERP features?

SERP features are those things that aren’t paid ads, but also aren’t the normal 10 blue listings. There are featurd snippets, the people also ask box, people also search for, the local map pack, image carousels, video carousels and more. Well breathe easy, it seems that the diversity update is not impacting most SERP features, so if you have real estate on the front page related SERP features like videos, you shouldn’t lose visibility.

One thing that a business owner in home services might worry about is whether or not this will affect the local pack. Speaking from experience with my own clients in this space, I am not seeing a decrease in visibility. We’re still in the top 5 positions organically, and we’re still represented in the top 3 in the map pack. This makes sense, because most local sites will earn no more than two spots anyway. A position in the local listings and a position in the map pack is two. So in a practical sense, even if this update is applied to the map pack as well, most small businesses have nothing to worry about. And while I’ve shown some examples of exceptions, you should know that this update seems to be having a positive impact on a majority of searches! (see below)

ICYMI

Danny Sullivan is a former SEO with a long history in the industry. He (relatively) recently took a job as Google’s search liaison and runs the Google SearchLiaison Twitter account. In case you’re confused, he’s responding as himself, but both tweets are from him. One is just the official Google channel for specific announcements, and the other he uses to maintain “facetime” in the industry. 

The original tweet is Danny announcing the Diversity Update for the first time through official channels. His response is a clarification to my question. It might be slightly confusing to the average business owner, but that’s what I’m here for. 

Regardless of how it was communicated, we’re glad he responded. Thanks, Danny!

 

 

And now I bid you adieu

That’s it for today’s update, thanks for reading. Please share if you found it useful, and as always, please reach out if you would like a free SEO consultation using the contact form below.

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