Wow!! So the world of SEO certainly brings out some quite interesting topics and I probably shouldn’t be so shocked to find something about the language industry was thrown into the mix again last month. The title of this post is not just plucked out of thin air to shock my previous industry colleagues, it’s a statement of fact but it certainly doesn’t diminish the necessity for website localisation. It does mean that they may have to reconsider their sales pitch in order to highlight the benefits of these services and fortunately for BrowserBloom, it means that we’re very firmly at the top of the list of services required to help companies and organisations hit the high spots on those ever sought after Google search rankings. (other search engines available and are just as important)
What is it that I’m actually talking about then?
In a 5-series blog post entitled “The Entity & Language Series: Entity-First Indexing with Mobile-First Crawling” Cindy Krum goes into a deep dive on the subject matter of mobile-first indexing. Even if you know nothing about this subject matter you will already be experiencing the impact of it and as the magnitude of this shift in Google’s search criteria continues, they will become even more apparent.
Previously, Google has used a hierarchical search criteria system where language has been in the top echelon of search criteria but even so, over the last 2 to 3 years they have been working on and using, entities (Nodes and Edges). With the long-awaited shift over to mobile first indexing about 3 or 4 months ago entities have now become the top echelon for search criteria and these are not built or used in the same way as the previous search algorithms. Language no longer now plays the same significant role that it once did. That said, it does help in the search process and definitely plays a major role in the UX (user experience) and should always be considered if you’re conducting business in countries that don’t have the first language of your domestic market.
Mobile first indexing
This is the way that search engines gather the data from your website and, as the name suggests, mobile first indexing means that they index mobile-optimized sites first. This doesn’t mean that if your site isn’t mobile friendly it will no longer be available, however, it does mean that you will not be indexed for mobile devices by Google if it isn’t and you will most likely find your site dropping in position as a consequence. It has taken the best part of 10 years for this to happen and it almost feels like “old hat” since the uptake of voice-activated searches on Siri, Alexa, Google assistant etc, but because it has taken so long to complete it just proves to highlight how complex these algorithms have become and even though I don’t think it will take a further 10 years to produce a Voice first indexing update to Google, I do think that the latest indexing update will be around for quite some time yet and it will be most likely integrated into Voice first indexing as opposed to replacing it which is what they did with the shift to Mobile first indexing.
Do I need to optimize for Voice searches?
Yes! Though this does depend on what product and service you are offering. Let’s be clear on this, people who are searching using voice recognition software are not researching technical products or even looking for them just yet. This doesn’t mean to say that they won’t do so in the future, especially with AI being a primary focus of Google, but right now users are using these searches for a plethora of other reasons alongside the occasional “where’s the nearest Greek restaurant?”
How will they deal with other language voice searches?
This is where the Google AI engines have become very clever. Utilising the powerful Google translation engines, voice recognition and locality search criteria, it is highly likely that a Greek restaurant in London, whose website is localised into a number of different languages of which one is German, will come up first when a German tourist says ” Hey Google wo gibt es, in der Naehe, ein griechischen Restaurant”
In short, the indexing of your digital channel has changed and a large number of organisations will be wondering why their traffic has taken such a dip over the last few months. The need to have your website localised is still very real and hugely beneficial but the need to conduct a quality SEO audit to establish upon what to concentrate on first is significantly more important.