Algorithm Shifts 2018: Will Google Continue to Kill Organic Search Results?

23 January 2018

Search engine optimisation is a fickle mistress, the rules of the game can seem to change in a second, and that can make it difficult to plan for the future. In the last few years, we’ve seen sites come and go as Google adjusts their algorithm and pushes to generate more profits.

But with Google killing organic search results via more advertisements and a stricter algorithm, is there a place for the small website owner in this day and age?

Organic Results are Shrinking

What’s certain is the organic results are shrinking. Not in the sense of there being less of them, but regarding physical size on the front page.

Google is pushing more ad placements above the first result, as well as ads on the sidebar and also the new Knowledge Box or Featured Snippet result. All of this is causing the organic search results to be pushed down, is Google killing organic search results?

Perhaps not on purpose, but that’s certainly the effect that small website owners are feeling. By pushing the organic results down, it re-prioritises them, reducing the number of clicks that go to these pages and therefore making them less profitable.

Instead, those visitors are going to click on the advertisements that cover the page and go to potentially lower quality sites as a result.

Is it Going to Get Worse?

Truly, it’s likely that the situation will get worse for a small website owner, but only slightly. Google generates the vast majority of their revenue from these advertisements, and it’s therefore in their best interest to increase the click-through rate to these ads.

However, the only way Google can get people to click these ads is if people are using their search engine and that is going to change with more ads. It can often seem like Google is the only search engine on the market, but Bing is becoming more sophisticated each year, and the latest estimates suggest they are gaining market share.

Therefore, Google can’t afford to tighten down on the organic search results much more because they still rely on them to bring visitors to their search results pages.

It seems likely that Google might use other tactics like color and boxes to encourage users to click on ads, but it’s unlikely that the number of ads will increase in the future.

Low-Quality Sites Will Continue to Disappear

As well as increasing the number of ad spaces on their results they have also made a conscious effort in recent years to tighten the algorithm to destroy low-quality sites. That shouldn’t be a bad thing either; many search terms were littered with low-quality affiliate sites that often gave inaccurate and potentially harmful advice.

Instead, by adjusting their algorithm, they should be able to rank sites that are more likely to show accurate and useful information to their readers.

Over the coming years, it’s incredibly probable that Google will be able to nearly eradicate low-quality sites from the top-ranking positions via Rank Brain. This artificial intelligence is designed to learn and constantly adjust the algorithm.

It works by using natural language processing and learning mechanics to try and understand more effectively what people are looking for when they search. By doing this, they can give people more accurate results instead of simply sending them to generic pages.

The result of this will be that higher quality pages with specific and detailed information are likely to see an increase in traffic while lower quality pages will suffer.

Google will Give More Traffic to the Most Authoritative Sites

Due to the algorithm changes that we’ve seen in the past few years, namely Penguin, Panda and Fred, authoritative sites are getting more traffic than ever. These large brands are trusted by Google, and when so many sites have terrible pages, it’s safer for them to send the majority of their traffic to just a small selection of trusted large websites.

It seems unlikely that Google truly believes that this is the best solution, but it’s potentially the most effective in the short term. In the coming year, this ratio is only going to worsen as Google continues to adjust their algorithm to prioritize large existing sites over small new and therefore inherently riskier websites.

From the perspective of a small business you could conclude that this is Google killing organic search results, but in reality, it’s more of a cleanup process that is filtering out the trash. For the average searcher, this is going to lead to higher quality results and lower bounce rates.

Combating the Changes

But just because these changes are happening that doesn’t mean that your website needs to be caught up in the drama. However, if you are not already following their guidelines, religiously you will need to start as soon as possible.

Producing short and low-quality articles aren’t the answer, long, detailed and well-researched posts is. Instead, of copying and re-writing what other sites have already done, you must go out of your way to conduct primary research and thereby create something unique that is worth indexing.

The beauty of this method is that by creating superior content, you will make attracting high-quality backlinks that much easier. This combination of great quality and more backlinks from reputable sources will see you prosper in this new era of organic search while those that stick to their old ways will continue to lose rankings.

Please note: This article was written by an external author. Any opinions or advice shared by the author are their own and not indicative of any official advice or opinions of Thomson Local or its employees.

Tagged with:

  • Google
  • Hook Agency
  • Organic Search
  • SEO
  • Tim Brown
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Owner of Hook Agency

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency - Web Design Minneapolis, and is a web designer and SEO Specialist out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tweet him at @hookagency.

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