At the end of April, Google officially announced its Project Owl algorithm update. In an official Google post titled “Our Latest Quality Improvements for Search,” Google’s VP of Engineering, Ben Gomes, said that the new update would target “the phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.” He also described a number of changes, including a feature that will crowd-source feedback on the quality of search results directly from searchers.
We took an opportunity to sit down with three of Mediagistic’s in-house subject matter experts — Inbound Marketing Manager Eddie Childs, Digital Strategy Manager Christopher St. Jean, and Vice President of Internet Marketing and Product Innovation Brantley Smith — to discuss what this might mean for Mediagistic’s clients and the home services industry at large.
Question & Answer Session: Google’s Owl Update
Q: Google Owl will target “fake news queries.” What does this mean for the home services business?
Eddie Childs: “The fact that it’s targeting fake news isn’t all that relevant for its own part; at least, not when it comes to the home services industry. This update is really being aimed at news publishers and partisan political blogs, rather than business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses. But the fact that it’s driving Google to place even more value on ‘authoritative content’ is the part that stands out to me.
Also, it’s significant that Google is actively soliciting feedback from users about the usefulness of search results and is using that feedback to modify its algorithm is a major development. That means that search results are going to change a lot more rapidly based on customer input, and that now more than ever, content has to provide a good user experience and provide direct answers to search queries instead of just existing for SEO purposes.”
Q: How could this affect our clients or our strategies?
Chris St. Jean: “This update won’t affect us directly. Nothing we produce would be considered offensive or fake. If anything, I would focus on the fact that our content is already considered authoritative by Google and is often shared with consumers throughout the U.S., which can help increase the overall authority of our clients’ sites.”
Q: Is this a content quality update on par with Google Panda?
Brantley Smith: “This is less about punishing ‘weak’ content and more about leveraging an algorithm and the search community (think Wiki) to moderate the accuracy and appropriateness of content being published. Consumer-facing HVAC sites and blogs are likely low risk of being impacted much by the algorithm and certainly not the biggest offenders.
Again, if Google is serving a direct answer, it needs to do what it can to serve accurate and non-harmful content or it will lose credibility. Historically, the simple act of serving many organic results is more passive in nature, leaving Google less accountable for the accuracy of the content as a search engine. With serving only one direct answer, Google’s team members are putting their necks out there and vouching for the accuracy of the content (answer). For this reason, they are now putting some of the accountability on the general public. Smart move, as using just the algorithm would be risky.”
Q: So what are the takeaways here, if any?
Eddie Childs: “At the end of the day, Google Owl is just illustrative of the trend toward ever-higher-quality content and usefulness for the user. Progress marches relentlessly onward, as they say. Even if you aren’t publishing fake news, your site has to keep up with the times.”
Digital Marketing Expertise for the Home Services Industry
According to a recent report by Search Engine Land, Google launched more than 1,600 changes to search in 2016. While most of those changes were minor tweaks, the search giant makes significant changes to its core algorithm at least a few times a year. For most dealers in the home services industry, it’s a daunting task to keep up with these changes and understand their ramifications.
Fortunately, Mediagistic employs numerous subject matter experts with the necessary digital marketing acumen to know which updates are important for your business and which ones are not. Along with our holistic digital marketing campaigns, home services dealers receive all the benefits of having an entire team of marketing professionals at their disposal. Contact us today to learn more about how our custom digital marketing plans can benefit you.
Brantley Smith is the Vice President of Digital Marketing and Product Innovation at Mediagistic. He is a big picture sort of guy. If you want to know what the future is bringing, he’s a good guy to talk to. His entrepreneurial DNA led him to start up four tech companies before age thirty-five, one of which he navigated through its merger and acquisition by publicly traded Online Outpost Licensing Corporation. Connect with him on Linkedin.
Edwin Childs is the Inbound Marketing Manager for Mediagistic. His writing has been published by a range of websites and publications including Copypress.com, Jambase.com, NFLSoup.com, FootballNation.com, and Boating World, KnowAtlanta, Men’s Book, Cobb in Focus, TCL, Blush, Charged Electric Vehicles, Business to Business, and Catalyst magazines. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on Linkedin.
Christopher St. Jean is the Digital Marketing Strategy Manager for Mediagistic, and he places an emphasis on analytics and optimization. He’s passionate about helping companies and clients see the “big picture” not only by acquiring qualified traffic, but by maximizing each site visit to ensure the best possible chance of a conversion via A/B and multivariate testing. Connect with him on Linkedin.
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