SEO Extent


Google’s most recent AI search updates

Not so long ago, Google announced their AI search updates. The name ‘AI updates’ suggests that it is not one update, but a combination of multiple updates that focus on providing the most useful AI-driven information to the online searchers. These updates come with a few improvements to the algorithm Google has been using to rank websites and show them on search results pages.

This is super exciting news for online searchers since they are going to get exactly what they are looking for. But as always, there comes a bit of trouble for webmasters and SEOs along with this update. This is going to impact the ranks of a huge number of websites. If renowned search experts are to be believed, the AI updates are going to impact the search engine ranking of between 7% and 10% of websites.

According to Google’s official blog post, some of the updates have already been implemented, while other updates will get introduced by the end of this year.

Purpose of the AI updates

Google has always been committed to giving the best possible information to its search engine users. Showing the most relevant data up on the search results has been their top priority. They rank websites that provide the most useful information to the users or answer the users’ queries in the best possible way. This is why they have to keep experimenting and making changes to the way their ranking algorithm works.

Since Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the most advanced technology that works closely with the human psychology, Google wanted to incorporate the technology to their search system and allow their users to get the best information and the most useful data in the search results.

People at Google understand that some searchers have the ability to type in the accurate words and phrases to get the best possible results for their queries, while others don’t know what exactly they need to type in the search in order to find the most appropriate results even if they are looking for something very important. To decrease this big gap between expert and novice searchers, Google invested in language understanding, did a good amount of research and implemented the BERT update in their search algorithm last year.

Following the same principle, they started their research on AI implementation and have made a set of the latest AI updates to their algorithm. Whether users are able to type the exact matching terms in the search or not, whether they type in the correct English or not; Google will make sure they provide the best search results along with some best search suggestions to the searchers.

AI updates that are already live

The latest AI updates have made it possible for Google to share a few advancements to their ranking mechanism. Let’s discuss the updates that are live already.

Spelling update

Google sees at least one misspelled query in every 10 search queries in a day. This is a really big number if you calculate the total number of searches done in a day. Google knew something had to be done about this to help the searchers out.

Actually spelling suggestion is not a new concept by the search engines. It’s been around for a while, but according to Google their latest Spelling update is the biggest improvement to spelling in the last five years since it uses a deep neural net to allow Google to recognize the misspelled words and suggest the correct alternatives easily.

In simpler terms, Google is now able to understand the context of the misspelled words thanks to the spelling algorithm update. This is a wonderful move by the search engine as the searchers can find the right results within 3 milliseconds even if they misspell certain search terms.

Update to index passages

This update will help Google to not only index web pages but also the individual passages from the web pages that are right for the users. According to Google, they have realized that sometimes only a single sentence on an entire page can answer the search query, so there’s no point for a reader to read through the entire text of the page. If the single sentence could come up on the search as highlighted or bold text, it would ideally meet the purpose of the reader.

This is a really important update because Google says; this specific update can impact 7% of search queries across all languages globally. But we are yet to know how much impact this update will have for desktop sites and mobile sites.

With this passage indexing capability, the search engine would now be able to show the most relevant passages from a page in the search, rather than ranking broader web pages and asking the users to go the whole page and find the answer. This will save a lot of time of the Google users.

Subtopics update (coming by the end of the year)

This update will be introduced by the end of the year. They have applied the same neural nets principle to understand the exact search intent, find different subtopics around an interest and possibly show diverse content to the users, so they can get more help out of the search results.

According to Google, “If you search for ‘home exercise equipment,’ we can now understand relevant subtopics, such as budget equipment, premium picks, or small space ideas.”

With this update, the searchers will get to find a wider range of highly relevant content on the search results page. It would be possible for businesses to optimize for specific subtopics and get benefited.

Video update (will have to wait until the end of 2020 to see its impact)

Google has invested a lot in AI technology, and with the latest AI-driven video update Google can now study videos and identify key moments in them that can be of interest to the searchers. After identifying the keywords moments in a video, Google will tag those moments automatically and show on the search results. This will make sure that users could see at what point in the video the answer is, so they could get straight to the answer easily and quickly without having to watch the entire video.

This is pretty much similar to the passages indexing updated discussed above. Google predicts 10% of searches on Google will use this technology by the end of this year. If your content team produces video content, then they have to do some changes to the way they’ve been planning and producing videos. They would need to produce videos that are clear and easily understood section by section.

Data sets update

According to Google, statistics or data can sometimes be the best search results, and rightly so. Would you ever want to read an entire page to know the current population of Los Angeles or simply a number?

The recent update about the stats or data sets enables Google to quickly find out the exact stat or number or even a data point that provides the right answer to a user’s query. With the help of their natural language processing they map the search terms to a specific data point, and show that stat on the search results page. If the user is not satisfied with only one stat or data point, then there would be other data points and context on the search results that are relevant to the topic. This helps the user explore the topic in greater detail and depth.

Apart from these major AI-driven updates, Google has rolled out certain features and tools to show useful information about current topics that are trending. The list includes:

High quality information during the COVID-19

Advanced search to help quality journalism

‘Lens and AR’ in Google Search to help users explore information in 3D

‘Hum to Search’ to enable users to hum and find the name of the song on the search.

What you need to do as an SEO or a webmaster after the updates ?

Well, the best thing you can do is keep doing what you know is working best for you. Don’t panic about the update yet and there is no need to start making changes to your SEO process. The AI-driven updates, especially the passage indexing and video updates are surely going to affect Search Engine Optimization.

Once these updates start their operation in full swing, you might see some already ranked websites lose their ranks, so there would naturally be an increased competition. More pages would be eligible to rank even though those are not thoroughly optimized for the keyword phrases.

Good luck to you!

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