Have you ever typed in a simple phrase on Google, expecting it to understand your local preferences? “Sushi”, “best sushi” or “sushi near me” – which brings up the most relevant results? Rob Bucci at MozCon 2018 dove deep into how Google might be making location-based decisions on your behalf, and why it’s critical for SEO professionals to adapt to these evolving trends. In this blog post, we’re going to explore the intriguing topics Rob covered, including Google’s shift from “near me” modifiers, the elusive nature of implicit intent, and how the search engine has become a crucial “middleman” in catering content to suit local search behaviours. Drawing on insights from Bucci’s illuminating discussion, we will delve into Google’s decision-making process and the important implications it has for your SEO strategy. Welcome to a world where every single search result has a dash of local flavor!
Table of Contents
- – Deciphering Google’s Role in Local Search Intent
- – Tracking Implicit Vs Explicit Search Intent: A Vital Task for SEO
- – Google’s Geomodifiers: Shaping Local Search Queries
- – Interpretation of Search Queries: Google’s Algorithm at Work
- – Quality Vs Proximity: How Google Prioritizes User Intent in Local Search
- – The Reality of Localized SERPs: Changing the Way We Track SEO Results
- The Conclusion
– Deciphering Google’s Role in Local Search Intent
In the digital world of 2017, Google noticed a trend: a jump of up to 150% in local search queries without the use of the “near me” tag. Conversely, they also observed a decrease in the use of location-specific (geo) modifiers in search queries. The primary reason behind this shift, Google revealed, was the growing public confidence in finding exact needs with a simple phrase or keyword, hinting at a shift in user search intent from explicit to implicit.
Every SEO expert should take note of this shift. Understanding search intent has never been more critical, and there’s a need to delve deeper into this implicit intent, drawing on new ways to optimize for it. Elements such as “sushi near me”, for instance, suggest proximity as a fundamental need, while a term like “sushi in Seattle” hints at a city-wide search range. The term “sushi” might imply a user’s hunger or research requirements, while “best sushi” seems to prioritize quality over location.
But here’s the critical part. Google serves as the ‘middleman’, tasked with discerning this growing implicit search intent. To be effective SEO practitioners, understanding Google’s intent interpretation and matching methods is non-negotiable. Because, ultimately, no matter how well we guess our users’ search patterns, failing to align with Google’s interpretation will leave us missing a piece of the puzzle.
- Implicit Intent – Understanding and optimizing for keywords that hint at the user’s intent without explicitly stating it.
- Explicit Intent – Understanding and optimizing for keywords where the user’s intent is clearly specified.
The age of relying solely on national search engine result pages (SERPs) is over. Today, each SERP is localized to a certain degree, meaning tracking national SERPs no longer provides the full picture. Acknowledging and adapting to this new reality is crucial for achieving SEO success.
– Tracking Implicit Vs Explicit Search Intent: A Vital Task for SEO
Recognizing the Shift to Implicit Intent in Local Searches
As per an article released by Think With Google in August 2017, there has been a significant 150% rise in local queries carried out without the inclusion of the ‘near me’ modifier. Across the board, users are beginning to drop geo modifiers from their searches. This trend suggests that users are increasingly relying on simple phrases or single words, assuming they can find what they’re searching for with minimal input. For SEO professionals, this shift cannot be overlooked as it signals a growing lean towards searches characterized by implicit intent, rather than explicit intent.
Understanding Search Intent and Optimizing Accordingly
The critical task for SEOs is to determine what these implicit intent queries are, delve into the underlying intent, and subsequently optimize their strategy accordingly. However, there’s more to the process than meets the eye. The key player in translating intent into relevant content — Google, often gets overlooked. It’s not just about interpreting what searchers mean when they key in a particular phrase; it’s equally crucial to comprehend how Google interprets these searches. For instance, the query ‘sushi near me’ indicates proximity as a priority, ‘sushi in Seattle’ implies a broader city-wide scope, and ‘best sushi’ suggests quality over location. Google’s interpretation and handling of these searches are fundamental to an effective SEO strategy.
The Importance of Localized SERPs
Gone are the days when SEOs could rely on tracking a national SERP across the United States, trusting it to be an accurate representation of a searcher’s view, irrespective of east or west coast location. Today, every SERP is localized to some degree, and merely tracking national SERPs doesn’t cut it. The SEO landscape has changed radically, and it is essential to keep pace with these transformations to maintain visibility and relevance in an extremely competitive digital field. This underscores the necessity of mastering the art of reading and responding to implicit search intent.
– Google’s Geomodifiers: Shaping Local Search Queries
Discovering how users interact with local search results is a constantly evolving study. When Think with Google highlighted a significant 150% boost in local-focused queries sans the ‘near me’ feature, this suggested a changing trend in how users are interacting with Google’s search engine.Interestingly, the use of “geographic modifiers” was receiving less play as users began to believe that they could find what they needed with just a simplified term or phrase.
With these changes in mind, SEO advocates need to grasp, interpret, and react to the implicit intents of their users, rather than solely focusing on the explicit. This important knowledge step entails delving into these implicit inquiries, understanding their intent, and optimizing search strategies appropriately.
Yet, while SEO professionals are busy deciphering user intent, we should not forget the crucial intermediary role played by Google. After all, Google itself must understand and respond to the searcher’s intent to provide the right kind of content. This means that understanding Google is equally critical to understanding the users.
To illustrate this understanding, consider the following search queries: ‘sushi near me’, ‘sushi in Seattle’, ‘sushi’, and ‘best sushi’. Each phrase demonstrates varying levels of user intent; proximity or quality might be more important depending on the language chosen. Interpreting intent can be difficult and Google doesn’t always get it right, but it is continually making those judgement calls.
As we examine this evolving dynamic further, it’s crucial to remember just why understanding these changes are so critical. Traditionally, US based SEO practitioners could rely on tracking a national search engine results page (SERP) as an accurate reflection of what searchers were seeing, whether on the East or West coast.
Nevertheless, today’s search landscape has drastically changed, with every SERP being localized to some degree. Relying only on national SERPs will no longer suffice for a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy that taps into the dynamic world of local search and Google’s pivotal role as the intermediary.
– Interpretation of Search Queries: Google’s Algorithm at Work
Google’s impressive algorithm is orchestrated in a way that it can discern and cater to the evolving trends related to how users input search queries. Back in 2017, Google noted an upsurge by 150% in local queries sans any ‘near me’ modifier. At the same time, it observed fewer local queries using geo-modifiers. The reason that propelled this shift is users’ developing confidence that inserting simple words or phrases into Google’s search box would fetch them the desired results. This has altered the game for SEO experts.
The reality is we can no longer turn a blind eye to semantic search as our users might be performing searches with implicit intent. Our mandate now is to identify the implicit intent behind their queries, delve into what this means, and devise strategies to optimize our content accordingly. However, this task isn’t a cakewalk since another significant player exists in the equation – Google. As SEO professionals, our success hinges not only on figuring out what the users actually mean, but also on understanding how Google interprets these search inputs.
Google operates as the mediator between the content and the searcher, ensuring that the searcher’s intent is well comprehended and diligently linked to the appropriate content. Looking up queries such as ‘sushi near me’ suggests that users value proximity, while ‘sushi in Seattle’ presents a broader geography of interest. Inputs like ‘sushi’ can be ambiguous as the intent can be either casual research or booking a meal. On the other hand, ‘best sushi’ creates the impression that the user’s emphasis is more on quality than the location. To invariably comprehend the user’s intent presents a significant challenge even for Google.
Moreover, the reality is that where SEOs once depended solely on national search engine result pages (SERPs), today’s search landscape demands localized SERPs. Customized to a certain extent, these localized SERPs have revolutionized the way SEOs must approach their work. We are living in an era where national SERPs are no longer adequate, and understanding searcher intent and Google’s interpretation of it has become paramount.
– Quality Vs Proximity: How Google Prioritizes User Intent in Local Search
Deciphering User Intent in Local Searches
Think with Google had made a staggering revelation back in August 2017. Their research had showcased a 150% rise in the number of local search queries performed without resorting to the ‘near me’ modifier. It was also observed that there was a steady decline in people utilising geo-modifiers in their local search queries. The takeaway message for SEOs from this was substantial – a clear shift was manifesting, where users were relying less on explicit intent and more on implicit intent. To effectively optimize for this, SEOs had to understand these less obvious queries, dissect their intent, and find ways to optimize their content to cater for them.
However, this task cannot be completed satisfactorily without considering the role of the ‘middleman’. The algorithm that deciphers user intent and matches the queries with appropriate content is none other than Google itself. Thus, an understanding of Google’s decision-making process becomes indispensable. Unraveling the intent behind queries like ‘sushi near me’, ‘sushi in Seattle’, ‘sushi’, and ‘best sushi’, showcases the fluctuating prominence of proximity and quality concerning the user’s search intent. Getting it correct can be a meticulous task even for Google and it doesn’t always hit the mark. Nonetheless, Google is constantly making judgements, which we SEOs need to decode and incorporate into our optimization strategies.
The Growing Importance of Local Search
In times gone by, SEOs could depend on global search results, trusting that it would reflect what a user was seeing, irrespective of their geographical location. However, the contemporary SEO landscape has transformed significantly. Today, every Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) is localised to a certain extent. This essentially means that sticking to just tracking national SERPs no longer suffices. Understanding user intent in local search and optimizing for it has thus become absolutely critical.
– The Reality of Localized SERPs: Changing the Way We Track SEO Results
The ever-changing online landscape is creating a seismic shift in how we approach SEO. A study by Google indicated a 150% increase in localized queries without the use of the “near me” modifier. Simultaneously, there was a decrease in queries aided by geo modifiers. The takeaway? Users are shedding geo modifiers from their queries in favor of simple words and phrases. As SEO professionals, these shifts point to something we cannot ignore – the rise of implicit intent in user searches over explicit intent. This prompts us to revisit user query patterns and delve deep to figure out implicit intent. We should then match these findings with our SEO strategies and optimize accordingly.
However, such an approach can only be successful if we accept and understand the role of a very significant player – Google. In our quest to decode user intent, it is essential to align our understanding with Google’s. Akin to a middleman, Google is responsible for interpreting user intent accurately and linking it to the most appropriate content. A few queries like ‘sushi near me’, ‘sushi in Seattle’, and ‘best sushi’ indicate that the interpretation of proximity and quality varies vastly based on user’s explicit or implicit intent. Deciphering user intent is indeed challenging, and Google doesn’t always hit the bullseye. Yet, Google is making those vital decisions on interpreting user intent and matching it with the right content.
With the localization of SERPs, the paradigm of SEO tracking has also transformed. Previously, SEO professionals could rely on tracking a national SERP, regardless of a user’s geographical location. However, in today’s context, each SERP is, to some extent, locally targeted. This means that tracking national SERPs is no longer a reliable measure for SEO results. In conclusion, the reality of localized SERPs is altering the way we keep tabs on SEO results significantly, accentuating the need to adapt our SEO strategies to the evolving digital landscape.
Q: What shift did Google perceive in local search trends, and how is it impacting SEO strategies?
A: According to an article by Think with Google in August 2017, there has been a 150% increase in local queries without the usage of the ‘near me’ search modifier. Moreover, there’s been a notable decrease in geo-modifier uses in searches. This suggests that users are beginning to forego specifying their location, expecting to find what they’re searching for with just a simple word or phrase. This is referred to as ‘implicit intent’—users’ search indirectly implying their local intent.
Q: Why is understanding this shift in search behavior necessary for SEOs?
A: As this shift demonstrates, we can’t overlook the implicit intent behind user searches. It’s crucial for SEOs to pin down what implicit intent queries people might be using, delve into that intent, and optimize content accordingly. However, we also need to grasp how Google interprets these queries and matches the intent to relevant content for a more effective SEO approach.
Q: How does Google play a role as a ‘middleman’ in defining search intent?
A: Google’s capability to interpret and correspond to search intent is the gateway between the searcher and the content. Even if we can accurately predict the implicit user intent, understanding how Google interprets and responds to that intent is critical.
Q: In terms of localization, how have search trends changed over the years?
A: Previously, national Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) would suffice for insights into what users were seeing across different geographic locations in the US. However, in recent years, SERP results have become localized to some extent, making national SERPs insufficient to count on. This localization makes it even more imperative for SEOs to consider and respond to the nuances of local search intent.
Q: Can you give an example of how varying search terms can imply different local intents?
A: Sure. Consider these searches – “sushi near me”, “sushi in Seattle”, “sushi”, and “best sushi”. Each of them implies a different local intent. The first explicitly indicates proximity preference, the second implies anywhere within the city is fine, the third is ambiguous, and the fourth seems to prioritize quality over location. Google must interpret these varying intents and decide how to harmonize them with appropriate search results.
Insights and Conclusions
And that’s a wrap on our deep dive into Google’s evolving search parameters and how these changes are dynamically influencing our strategies as SEOs! As we’ve learned from Rob Bucci’s enlightening MozCon 2018 talk, “Near Me or Far: How Google May Be Deciding Your Local Intent for You”, the secret sauce in SEO no longer hangs on Geo modifiers or the use of ‘near me’. Instead, it revolves around interpreting our searcher’s implicit intent, and comprehending how Google understands, matches, and prioritizes that intent.
But here’s the catch – no matter how well we interpret the intent of our searchers, if we can’t crack the code of Google’s understanding, we are missing a vital piece of the puzzle. To stay ahead in the game, we need to constantly evaluate and understand Google’s algorithmic choices, remembering that every SERP is localized in today’s scenario and tracking National SERPs no longer cuts it.
As we close this insightful discourse and delve deeper into the rabbit hole of SEO modifications, remember the importance of continually refining our strategies and aligning them with Google’s changing search environment. While Google may be the middle man, it’s our job as SEOs to bridge the gap and ensure the right content reaches our audience at the right time and in the right place! Stay tuned for more SEO enlightenments and until then, happy optimizing!