Google announced today that it’s rolling out new Search updates over the next few weeks that will aim to make it easier for people to find high-quality content. The new ranking improvements will work to reduce the amount of low-quality or unoriginal content that ranks high in search results. Google says that the update will especially target content that has been created primarily for ranking on search engines, known as “SEO-first” content, rather than human-first content.
The company’s tests have shown that the update will improve the results users find when searching for content like online educational materials, as well as arts and entertainment, shopping and tech-related content.
“If you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously encountered articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere on the web,” the company explained in a blog post. “This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.”
The new updates should help reduce the number of low-quality results from websites that have learned to game the system with content that is optimized to rank high in search results. Google says users should start to see content that is actually useful rank more prominently in search results. The company plans to refine its systems and build on these improvements over time.
The launch of the new improvements come as Google recently acknowledged that TikTok is cutting into its Search product. Senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan, who runs Google’s Knowledge & Information organization, recently noted that younger users are often turning to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search or Maps for discovery purposes. For instance, Raghavan said nearly 40% of young people go to TikTok or Instagram when looking for a place to eat, as opposed to Google Maps or Search.
TikTok already seems to be ready to capitalize on this, given the fact that it’s testing a new feature that enhances the popular short-form video app’s search functions, so it makes sense for Google to work toward improving its search engine. With these upcoming ranking improvements, Google is likely looking to regain users’ trust when it comes to delivering relevant and high-quality results.
In addition to announcing the search results ranking improvements, Google also said it’s launching an update in the coming weeks to make it easier to find high-quality and original reviews. The company began working on this last year, with the launch of a series of updates that were designed to show more helpful and in-depth reviews in search results, and the upcoming updates will build on these efforts.
Product review videos are a notable part of TikTok, so it’s no surprise that Google is working to surface higher-quality reviews on its search results page in order ensure that people come to its platform for reviews, as opposed to social media. If Google is able to give users high-quality reviews on the first page of its search results, people may be less likely to turn to TikTok for reviews.
Today’s announcement comes as Google recently shared that it’s working to enhance featured snippets, which are the little bite-sized results that the search engine packages up and delivers to the top of the page for many searches. Last week, the company said it’s rolling out an update that will improve the answers people see in these info boxes. According to Google, a new AI model called the “Multitask Unified Model” empowers its search ranking system to check its own work, in a way. The AI model accomplishes this by cross-referencing the top bolded text portion of a search snippet result against established high-quality search results to see if they are saying the same thing, even if they do it with different wording.