Every single day, lockdown or not, something is happening behind-the-scenes at Google and other internet giants like Facebook. I just heard that Facebook acquired Tenor, one of my favorite sources for gifs-I-didn’t-create.
I think it’s a bid to rope in the young ‘uns.
If you follow Google’s email updates and subscribe to a few communities of SEO culture vultures, you’ll see that with each release, there are usually one or two releases that make you think, ‘Aahhh…that makes sense. I think people’s going to like that.’
And then there will be at least ONE Google update that makes you go…huh? Huh. UGH…
Major Changes in Google Searches and Trends
There has been an increase in searches for questions like “Can children pass on coronavirus?”, “What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?”, “Covid-19 in the United States/Malaysia/Hong Kong/Pakistan/France/Belgium…?“, or “News on Coronavirus in….”
These questions were taken very seriously by Google and it is reflected easily on Google Trends.
Of course, there are also other non-Covid-19 searches being conducted on Google this year due to confusion, being locked-down, boredom, and the randomly-changing everyday topics like:
- Government aid
- senior shopping hours
- Walmart shopping hours
- Public health England
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government Aid
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Iceland delivery online shopping
- Waitrose online shopping
- Lowes online shopping
- Tesco online shopping
- how does international insurance work
- Amway shopping mobile
- fashion island shopping mall
- Hy-Vee Floral
- Online gifts
- Coronavirus shopping list
- amazon prime login shopping cart
Of course, with the lockdown, there’s been a 400% increase in the number of searches for “Hobbies to pick up during quarantine” too.
Other increasingly-popular topic searches on Google appears to be more home-bound:
- How to make Pimms
- How to make a face mask
- How to fold cereal box
- How to make a mask out of a sock
- How to make hand sanitizer
- How to cut men’s hair
- How to make buttermilk
Invisible Updates Happen All The Time
The thing is that Google is not obligated to tell anyone about its updates. There’s nothing in writing most of the time until everything’s pretty much set in stone and content producers, webmasters, and business owners are sent scrambling for answers.
For instance, when Google launched the Page Speed Insights, I was over the moon because it cut some of my work short by telling me it to me straight from the horse’s mouth.
The problem is when Google performs core updates that involve broad changes across the platform ahead of time without giving the rest of us content producers, webmasters, and business owners a heads-up.
Begrudgingly, I have to admit that it’s understandable because the search engine is always improving on itself to make the user experience better.
We have to remember that Google places more importance on its users, not us, the publishers, businesses, and marketers (even though most of us pay its bills). Harsh reality? I am afraid so.
Why Does Google Perform All These Core Changes
In layman language, imagine being asked to list down your Top Favorite Foods in the World in 2007.
When you’re asked again in 2018, 11 years later, it is safe to assume that you’ve now visited several other countries or a couple of really awesome restaurants in between. So, some of your food preferences might have changed.
The same goes for Google Updates. The preference of its users have simply changed to accommodate the needs of its users
Google says that whenever they perform these core updates, there’s essentially nothing wrong with your website or pages if you have NOT violated any of their algorithmic rules. It’s just how the system processes and delivers content to its ever-impulsive and always-growing audience.
While you might find some of your high-ranking pages suffer for no apparent reason, on the other hand, the changes may bring some previously underperforming pages to the fore.
If one of our pages tanks, worse yet, if our homepage or landing pages tank, do we do something about it, like…URGENTLY?
The engineers behind these broad core changes assure us that if we’ve ranked before, we don’t need to hit the panic button every time there’s a change.
Sometimes, there’s simply nothing to change.
Relook and ReFocus on Content Instead
Instead of diving into all the META tags, keyword placements, sitemaps, and whathaveyounots, I think the thing we should be doing is to run an audit on our content instead – current, future, and past ones.
The following article (link) may have been published in 2011 about Google Panda but the search engine is still using it as a benchmark. Here’s what they had to say about building high-quality websites.
If you read through what Google has been saying all these years, it all kind of boils down to trust and branding.
Originality, Accurate Information with Comprehensive Description
Nothing beats original content.
We (content writers and publishers) have been contending with this ever since we took a massive blow from Google Panda update. As content marketing goes back then, it was normal for us to publish the same article on multiple platforms, including posting them in article directories.
If you read the article, you’ll see that the Google update was a result of strong complaints from users about the rise of ‘content farms’.
I would argue that article directories are NOT the same as content farms.
What the search engine didn’t like was the fact that writers, publishers, businesses and website owners were leeching off of uninspiring, shallow, low-quality articles produced in mere minutes that are targeted for SEO ranking and using tools and software to make tons of money from ads.
Before the update, Google’s focus was on quantity over quality. They didn’t have anything in place to gauge how users would perceive the content.
So, with the new algorithm, the more relevant and useful your content is, the better it will rank.
Adding Value and Giving Credit to and for the Content
Very few writers pull ideas out of thin air. Ideas for content, articles, videos, and blog posts would often stem from something else we’ve read or seen online.
The Big Question – If the writer or content producer drew inspiration from other writers, video producers, social media users, or bloggers, are they making an effort to analyze the info, present it in a new light…or are they simply copying and rewriting the entire thing without giving credit to the original source?
Something search engines now look out for is ‘additional value’. It comes in a close second to ‘originality’.
Genuinely Thought-Through, Thought Out Digital Content
It goes without saying that those who have worked for traditional media companies and advertising agencies jump through more hoops and cut through an endless number of red tapes to get even the simplest thing approved.
Raise your hand and nod solemnly.
The same cannot be said about online content.
ANYONE…and I mean anyone has the right, freedom, and liberty to voice their opinion, publish an article, or produce a video as long as it is NOT illegal, offensive, provocative, a duplicate, abusive, emotionally disturbing, or promotes violence.
There are already platforms in place for everyone to publish their content online, be it in writing, visual, audio, or video.
They wanted content producers to think a little further, work a little harder, dive a little deeper.
They want content producers to think about this: Would this type of content appear in a magazine, your local newspaper, or a book? Would someone look at it and believe what you’re trying to say? Or is it just para after para of words strung together to make an article destined for Cyber Junkyard?
You know…spun essentially meaningless content.
Before we produce anything, think about this: does it subscribe to the concept of E.A.T. which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
This is particularly important if you’re in the financial, news, medical, banking, or legal industry.
What’s Coming At Us for 2020?
Google’s main source of income is its ad platform, be it on SERPs, Instagram, or Youtube.
Some speculate about the death of Google due to a host of potential threats, incoming competition, the evolution of technology, a change in user preferences (especially on issues like data protection, tracking, and privacy), but I wouldn’t be too sure about that.
The search engine seems geared for the challenge. Since it’s ads are mostly native ads, I don’t personally see a problem just yet.
If you’re not yet accustomed to logging into Google’s Community of Search Engine Crazies, head over to Google’s Webmasters’ Forum.
Warning: if you’re new, start by asking a question instead of clicking from page to page.
Otherwise, it’ll give you mental whiplash.
That’s all from me for now. I don’t really know what’s ahead of us in terms of easing ourselves back the ‘new normal‘, but I think we should all be optimistic, be on our toes, keep an eye out for what’s happening, and cross our fingers, toes and eyes.
If you’re on social media a lot, please consider following me here on Instagram, Facebook, Medium, Linkedin, or even Twitter. Send me a message (Google form) here if you to explore ways we can work together to make your content development, copywriting, web development, and digital marketing campaigns better.
Take good care of yourself and your family and keep smiling,
Note: Credit for Featured Image: Campaign Creators on Unsplash