Over the years, many have criticised Google for sometimes showing too many listings from the same domain name in their top search results. As an SEM agency in Singapore, this is one of the challenges that we have to overcome because getting our clients on the top search results is our main goal.
Fortunately, last month Google has finally updated its search algorithm to promote diversity in the search engine results page. They aimed to limit the number of times a domain can appear on a single SERP to show a broader range of websites. This means that one domain will no longer be able to occupy more than 2 ranking positions on an individual page result.
This was an admirable move by Google as this update allows other businesses to show up on the search results page that was once dominated by giant companies like Amazon. In the past, searching for a particular query would give you the top ten results where 4 to 5 of them would be from the same domain name.
Core results and sub-domains
The site diversity update only impacts the core results and does not affect additional search features like video snippets, image carousels, top stories or other vertical search features.
On the other hand, it will generally consider sub-domains as part of a root domain which means that any listing from the main domain and sub-domains will all be counted as coming from a single site. However, it can still be treated as separate sites if it is deemed relevant to do so by Google.
To see if there is any difference since the diversity update was rolled out, Searchmetrics analysed the SERPs and compared the results for a group of keywords from March 2019 with the results from June 2019 and here’s what they found:
- Keywords showing results of more than three URLs from one domain is down to zero.
- Only 3.5% of keyword searches now contain three URLs from the same domain – down from 6.7% which is almost a half drop.
- The number of keywords that displays two URLs from the same domain is up by less than 1% – from 43.6% to 44.2%.
- Just over half of searches (52.3% from 47.9%) have returned different domains in the top ten rankings which means there was a drop in keywords returning multiple URLs for a single domain.
Relevance vs. Diversity
To be fair, this update has not sacrificed relevance in the name of diversity for social media marketing in Singapore. Google will still show more than two results from a single domain if their systems conclude that it is relevant to the query and a searcher would benefit from it. This mostly applies to navigational keywords and branded queries.
Transactional vs. Informational
User intent will always play a big part in what results will be displayed and most keywords will have mixed intent. This can be classified into two kinds of searches – transactional or informational. Either the user wants to purchase a product or service (transactional) or just searching for information to answer their questions (informational).
A study, conducted after the update was rolled out, found that transactional searches among keywords have been more affected with a domain losing at least one of its three listings on the top ten rankings. The fact that the keywords impacted are more likely to have a search intent that is transactional means that shoppers will more choices on the first search results page.
However, informational searches with high-quality content will still yield three URLs from the same domain in certain niches which shows that Google still gives preference to relevance over forced domain diversity.
For companies that offer SEM services in Singapore, this update means it is time to re-evaluate common SEO practices like heading elements and matching title tags to search queries. Apart from this, re-examining strategies for services that are directly affected by this update – like Google Adwords management – is a priority. It is important to be able to adapt to changes like these to make sure that the clients’ businesses will still get the top ranking in the search results page.