Google Drops Google Instant after 7 Years.

On the 26th of July Google announced that they would be removing Google Instant immediately. Google instant is the feature that shows you search results as you type. “Car In” would autofill to “car insurance” and the results for the whole phrase would appear. These results would change if you typed a different phrase. Google often experiments with different search results or features and this can be considered one of their longer projects.

A Google spokesperson revealed that:

“We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.”

This statement indicates that the way people search has changed since 2010. More than 50% of searches now occur on mobile devices. Mobile devices have many different screen sizes and formats, which would make this feature quite difficult to implement and seems to be more hassle than it is worth.

Another aspect to mobile search is the increased use of Voice Search where users tend to use make longer phrases and speak more naturally when searching. A phrase like “best Dubai Hotel” becomes “what is the best hotel in Dubai?” This longer phrase makes an instant result much more difficult to predict.

As we say goodbye to Google Instant, we look forward to the next Google experiment.

What Determines the Geo-Target of your Website?

It is important to gain visibility in search engines where your consumer base is searching from. SEO experts have a wide range of strategies and advice on how to geo-target a website. This generally means the country in which a company conducts its business.

It was thought that to ensure search engines understand where you are based was to host your website in that country. However, this wasn’t always the best option as international hosting companies often offered much more cost effective or better solutions. The good news is that Google recently revealed that server location is irrelevant in determining the geo-target of a website. If you do business in the UAE but host in Europe or the US, it does not matter.

What Google uses for this is your ccTLD (country-code top-level domain) and the settings in your Google Search Console account. It has been widely accepted that the most efficient way of geo-targeting your website to one country is by purchasing a ccTLD. This means if you are based in the UK for example, the best way to rank on Google.co.uk as a local business is to buy a domain like mybusiness.co.uk or if you are based in the UAE a domain like mybusiness.ae is the best way to gain traction within the UAE.

If, however, you do not have a ccTLD and something like .com or .org then the best way to signal to Google is by changing the international targeting setting in Google Search Console. By ticking the box and selecting a country, you can target that location and start to gain traction in that country.

 

Something to consider however is that if you do business and want to attract business outside of the country you are based in, is that by purchasing a ccTLD or selecting a country in Google Search Console you are limiting your ability to gain visibility in other countries. This not to say you will not show up in SERPs at all but websites targeting other countries will take preference over yours. If you want to run a multinational campaign, it is best to contact an SEO expert or agency to guide you through this strategy as there are multiple pitfalls in trying to achieve this.

What are Google Posts?

Google posts launch during the U.S. presidential campaigns as a way for candidates to promote content within the Google Search Results. They were later opened to businesses to promote their own content when users searched for their brand. The user was already searching for the brand so there is no danger of promoting one company over another in a generic search.
This story appears as a card within the knowledge graph results. This is the section with the business details as well as a few photographs and the map location. Not only are articles posted here but according to Google a business can use images, videos and animated Gifs to promote themselves here. This obviously has a huge advantage when it comes to your content marketing strategy.

 

Timely Results

In the past when you publish content you have to wait for Google to index it. Share it on social media and let it gain some value or traction. All this before it could gain some traffic and momentum from Search Engines. This could prove problematic because if you are running a promotion or a limited offer by the time the article has had time to gain satisfactory results the offer might be over. This means you have missed out on a bunch of customers.

Saving on Native or Other Paid Channels

We have not been able to test the results of Google Posts and cannot confirm if it will save you marketing budget but we believe that it is likely. When you want to promote an article you generally would need to buy some traffic. This traffic comes from sources like Native advertising, paid social media advertising or display advertising amongst other methods. These eat into your marketing budget. However, if you can gain even 20% of these visits from Google Posts that you would normally rely on gaining from elsewhere you are already 20% better off in terms of budget. These visits are also likely to result in a better conversion as the traffic is searching for your brand already. This means that for 20% less spend you can gain the same amount of traffic and convert more consumers. Leading to a much better ROI for your content marketing campaign. We would not only rely on Google Posts and would follow your normal strategy. Supplementing it with Google Posts and testing if it works.

Using Tracking Links

The problem with measuring the success of Google Posts is you cannot differentiate which traffic comes from Organic Search and which comes from Google Posts yet in Analytics. By using UTM codes in the URL you can see which traffic is from the knowledge graph and which is from regular Organic Traffic. This will determine the success of the campaign.

Google Posts are not available to everyone yet and you have to join a waiting list here. As with all things Google we must give new features time before we can understand the benefits. Google also can add and take away features at will. This feature does look like it has massive potential but we never know.

IP Redirects are Bad for SEO

We have discussed geo-targeting your website in previous posts. However, there are other ways to help users find the correct version of your site based on their location. One of these methods is to redirect users from one website to another based on IP. A company might have a website in the UK, Australia and the UAE and each of these is in English. The best way to make sure that a user convert is to serve up the website relevant to their location. A consumer in Australia is served the .com.au site and a consumer in the UK is served .co.uk and so on. This is where an IP based redirect helps from a user point of view. However, Google has stated this is not the case for search engines.

Why are IP redirects bad for Search Engines?

The Googlebot acts the same way as a user and should follow the same path as a user would. A user and the Googlebot follow the same redirect when they arrive at a website. This causes a problem in that the crawler will struggle to find your content. The most crucial SEO factor when considering a site is that all the content can be found by the Googlebot. When a crawler cannot find your content, it cannot index your content, and the user cannot find your content.
Although an IP redirect makes sense from a user perspective, it does not come from an SEO perspective. Google has now confirmed this. If a website cannot use IP redirection, what can it do to geo-target a market?

How to Geo Target a Website

From a previous Google statement, we know that the best way is by using a ccTLD as well as using Google Search Console to Geo Target a market. Another area to consider hreflang tags.

Hreflang tags allow a website to tell Google that they have content that is the same on another page they own. This is mainly used for different languages and countries. Hreflang tags can tell Google where the content should rank. They also can tell Google what language the content is in without Google having to determine this on its own.

Previously we mentioned that if a website had a UK, Australian and UAE website, they would be best served by users in those countries visiting the correct version of the website. If that website sold car insurance, the hreflang would look like this.

 

Hreflang tags are a way in which we can ensure Google understands which country to rank your content in and also not devalue a website for using duplicate content.

When implementing a multinational digital strategy, it is important to consider both the user as well as the search engine bots. Allowing the Google bot to find all of the content and using ccTLDs, Google Search Console and Hreflang tags to ensure users find that content easily and in the right location.

Multiple Reporting Tools Algorithm Update to Google

Google rarely reports when they are making changes to the algorithm and responds to questions with a standard “we make changes to the algorithm constantly” or something along these lines. However, there are multiple tools that monitor fluctuations in search rankings for a wide range of keywords. These tools clearly show when substantial changes are made with movements of many keywords.

Around June of 2017, a number of these websites and tools were reporting changes to the algorithm. The below measurements are from Rank Ranger, SEM Rush & Accuranker and all seem to be reporting an update around the end of June as well as in the first week of July.

Have you noticed any changes in ranking or organic search traffic to your website? If you have dropped off regarding traffic, it might be a smart idea to look at the content on your site or the links that are pointing to your website. It is best to do an SEO audit of your links, content and technical aspects of the website when there are signs of trouble.