In Early June 2019 the Google Search Liaison Twitter account announced the Site Diversity Change. It is a change to search results aimed at increasing the diversity of search results, and limiting the number of URLS returned from the same domain. Google claims this change affects how they show pages in search results, and not in how they rank websites. To understand the Site Diversity Change we can examine the information Google has given us, the reaction to the update, and an industry analysis by Searchmetrics.
What We Know
Google wants us to know that first and foremost the Site Diversity change is not a part of the June 2019 Core Update which began around the same time in Early June. They maintain they are two separate releases and that this is a change and not an update. The core goal of the change is to increase the diversity of the results shown on a search engine result page and potentially give smaller sites a change to display for a search where they previously may have been relegated to the second page. Google stated that the user will “usually” not see more than two listings from the same site, meaning they retain the right to show more than two results from the same page where they deem relevant (ex. branded or clearly navigational searches). Most instances of subdomains, for example a blog under a subdomain, will be treated as part of the root domain and therefore would be included in the limit of two results. There is an exception for hosting platforms that use subdomains, they will be treated as separate, and may show more than two results. Lastly Google’s Danny Sullivan stated on his twitter that the change would only affect the core organic web results and not the other displays (map packs, featured snippets, local listings, images, etc.). This is not the first, and will not be the last, change Google has made in the name of search diversity.
The reaction to the change has been mixed from the digital marketing community. Some domain owners fear they will lose rankings of their popular pages in the name of diversity of search results. On the other side some are claiming the change hasn’t done enough and has little to no effect. Others have pointed out that the change, conveniently enough for Google, will increase the importance and therefore value of ad space on search result pages. It will be interesting to watch how the community feels about the change as more time passes and Google refines the results.
Searchmetrics performed an in-depth analysis that provided some great insights into the change. They compared search results for thousands of keywords from March 2019 (before the update) against the results from June 2019. They found that 52.3% (up from 47.9%) of searches returned ten different domains in the top 10 ranking. Results returning two URLS from a single domain were at 43.6%, while results with three or more URLs from one domain where down to just 3.5%. The analysis also indicated that the change more clearly affects transactional searches, that is searches where the user intends to buy, rather than informational, where the user is looking for information. Informational searches more often returned results with more than two URLs from the same domain. Relevance will continue to outweigh diversity where Google sees fit. Now more than ever it is vital a website has strong technical optimization, so Google can determine what goods, services, or information a site offers.
As individuals and organizations analyze the effect and impact of the Site Diversity Change, it has become clear that increased diversity in organic results is an ongoing effort and Google will continue to refine the result pages. It is likely that there are further details and implications of the change that will continue to come to light. Changes like this highlight the necessity of a knowledgeable and informed digital marketing team. Contact Anvil Media today to make sure your site is up-to-date with the latest developments in the world of digital marketing.