In a 2008 blog post by Moz’s co-founder Rand Fishkin, I read about the diversification of search results regarding their subject area. And today, Google has only expanded its diversification efforts.
It doesn’t matter where you currently are, if you type the word “veterinarian,” “lawyer” or “mechanic” into the search engine — especially when you add a city to the search term (e.g., “New York City Veterinarian,” “Los Angeles lawyer” or “Prague mechanic”) — you will not get links to the websites of the 10 best veterinary clinics, law firms or car repair shops in a given city. Instead, you’ll see results such as Google Maps listings and some business cards pinned to given locations, catalogs of the institutions you’re searching, encyclopedic references or cross-references to various forums where users ask for a particular service in their city.
By diversifying the results, Google increases the chance that you will find what you need, even though you asked for it in general terms.
Responsible For This State Of Affairs Is What I Call ‘Google Results Diversity’
From my perspective, diversification most likely occurs when Google spits out thematically unified search results because it’s not able to respond perfectly to a user’s queries.
In 2014, Google began using featured snippets (extended descriptions of websites) as one of its tactics for search results ranking. Featured snippets were supposed to help display the best answers to users’ inquiries, pulled directly from the specific websites. After an affair with numerous cases of promoting false or inappropriate content (e.g., “women were evil”), Google started working on increasing the number of responses to search results, calling them diverse perspectives.
And in its next step — direct answer — the company has accelerated the delivery of the results one expects, showing an answer at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), similar to the way a voice assistant might provide an answer.
Elements That Have The Most Significant Impact On Google Results Diversity
Based on my experience, I have found that Google performs analyses in at least three areas, assessing whether the content it presents in search results meets its users’ expectations:
• Behavioral Factors: Using factors common in Google Analytics, such as rejection rate or time spent on the website, Google analyzes whether the website meets the expectations of the user, who reaches it through search results.
• Page Structure: Your header layout, text paragraph length, the presence of images or matching the title with keywords are the basis for the page’s visibility in the search results. For example, articles that are too short or too long, with no preserved header and paragraph layout, are less likely to reach the top of the search results.
• Sentiment Analysis: This covers all activities that Google undertakes to determine the emotions of users as a reaction to the text. I am not only talking about the so-called “hate,” but also the evaluation of our articles on other websites, measurement of the impact of our articles on social media, the authority of the websites on which links to our articles are placed and even to our domain.
Search quality expert Danilo Godoy stresses that understanding the user’s expectations is crucial for Google when assessing the value of a given source. Therefore, in the case of ambiguous queries, Google classifies search results as “more likely” and “less likely,” thereby prioritizing some of the meanings of search results for specific keywords.
When developing your online tactics, it’s important to keep these elements in mind. Based on my perspective and understanding, the main purpose of Google’s search results diversification is to maximize the coverage of keywords with minimal redundancy. This allows Google to increase the probability that the user will click on a topic of interest to them after typing a given keyword in the search engine.