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Peak Ace on Air #45: Organic Search Update

Monday was our May organic search update on Peak Ace on Air. With Domi away on holiday, Bastian brought in Peak Ace’s newest SEO Manager, Munir, as a guest star!

Bastian and Munir started by recapping the recent Google I/O conference. This is always a mega event where Google announces a bunch of new updates and exciting new projects. For example, at last year’s conference Google unveiled fascinating new technology that will allow blind and visually impaired people to safely go running, with vibrations in the earbuds to guide them away from obstacles or dangerous routes. So as Bastian says, it’s not purely a search conference – but seeing how Google is expanding and developing will have implications for search, too. Plus, a lot of the sessions are free, so make sure to check them out!

Multitask Unified Model (MUM)

First on Munir’s list of things he found exciting was MUM. Nope, Mama Munir wasn’t on the stream – MUM is a new AI technology from Google that facilitates searches. At the monent, one of the main challenges for search engines is the multiple searches you need to complete complex tasks, e.g. if you’re going for a family outing you might search: “weather in Oxford”, “directions London to Oxford”, “parking Oxford”, “restaurants outside in Oxford”. It takes an average of eight individual searches to gather all the information you will need. This new tech could really impact SEO, as Google can start understanding more sophisticated questions with fewer searches. We’re not sure when this technology will go live – but it’ll be very exciting when it does!

SXG (Signed Exchanges)

The next highlight was the new signed exchanges feature, announced earlier this year. It stands to have a big impact on your core web vitals, as it can pre-fetch resources like HTML and images to provide a better, faster page experience. Your browser will not have to request these resources after clicking Google, which will make it feel instantaneous. Bastian mentioned that it’s not even about actual page speed, it’s perceived speed – it’ll feel faster to you as a user because all the data is already there.

Googlebot: now crawling with HTTP2

Moving on, Bastian took us through a massive recap from Seosly with some of the videos from the I/O conference and main takeaways. He highlighted the development that Googlebot will now be crawling with HTTP2 pages (over half of URLs are already crawled like this!). Although HTTP2 has been around for a little while, crawling with this higher capacity means a big performance improvement for everybody.

Structured data: upcoming attractions

Next up, our hosts chatted about structured data. Structured data is a way of providing context to information, e.g. a zip code, which could be unrecognisable from country to country. This has been a hot topic for a while, but an exciting new development was the clip markup. This development means you can now search for specific moments in a video, directly from the Google SERP. You can already see this in some longer YouTube videos that include chapter headings and the ability to jump ahead.

Another thing that’s not yet live but coming soon is seek markup, which will use machine learning to help you find information within the text or images of a video. This is very exciting, as it would allow you to search for your answer within an audiovisual medium. This is, of course, all part of Google’s increasing trust and emphasis on video.

Try not to annoy your users!

Google has been emphasising page experience for a while. But their breakdown of page experience pillars was interesting to Bastian, as “user annoyance” turns out to be a specific factor in determining the overall quality of a page. While load speed is easy to determine, it’s pretty remarkable to find something so subjective as this is a factor. It’s worth considering though: is cumulative layout shift just driving your users mad? Will they really be able to find your page useful if it has them gritting their teeth?

Page experience ranking: now on desktop

We all knew this was coming, but it’s good to know that desktop is not dead! Munir made the point that this makes sense as users do have different expectations of a desktop page as opposed to a mobile one. You generally expect it to work more smoothly, with mobile functionality causing more problems or being less accessible. We don’t have a timeframe on the desktop update yet – more info is to come.

AMP is no longer required to number among the top stories. Top stories will be updated, with page experience ranking used to ensure high-quality pages are displayed on mobile devices. Bastian wonders how this will work in practice. Is it fair to only be included in Top Stories if you use Google’s AMP technology? Although it isn’t required, will AMP still have the advantage, and how will this be selected?

LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications)

Google unveiled its new, super-sophisticated chatbot, LaMDA, or Language Model for Dialogue Applications. Designed to be able to cope with open-ended conversation on changing topics, Google believes it is a step forward in terms of a more intricate understanding of search intent. You can also instruct LaMDA to give information from different perspectives – LaMDA can carry a conversation in character, whether as a paper plane, or the planet Pluto. However, as Bastian mentions, this does prove that it can follow a particular logical thread – but as with any machine, the output is only as good as the input.

And that’s a wrap on this month’s recap! Next week we’ll be taking a break, so you can catch up on some old episodes which we’ll promote on our socials. Check back in with us on June 15th for more Peak Ace on Air!

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