Google UK SERPs changes are here to stay

I awoke this morning to a beautiful sunny day over here in the UK, picked up my iphone to check my tweets and found that Matt Cutts had completed a YouTube video regarding the changes made within Google UK since the start of June. I was indeed shocked and amazed that he even considered answering a question that had a number of SEO professionals suggesting that the SERPs were broken. The general conclusion to Matt’s video was that ‘yes there are more .com websites ranking within Google UK’ and ‘its all about relevancy of the search query’. I think Matt has chosen to side step the real issue at hand and question that was being asked by Guavarian – the inclusion of relevant .com websites isn’t a problem – the problem is that the searcher’s experience is being diminished due to the inclusion of non-UK focused websites.

The two examples he used – Tesco & Churchill – are enormous brands in the UK associated with Car Insurance, which you would expect to feature in the top twenty for the search term ‘Car Insurance’. The chart below highlights the movement since March 1st 2009 up to August 18th 2009 for the keyword term in question against those URLs.

Car Insurance movement in Google from March 1st 2009 to August 18th 2009

Car Insurance movement in Google from March 1st 2009 to August 18th 2009

Not really ground breaking changes if you ask me. The two URLs featured in the top twenty prior to the algorithm change on June 6th anyway – and ‘earlier June’ was referred to in the initial question by Guavarian. So what do we take from this? The referral to two URLs, which are both hosted in the UK and featured prior to the change, indicates that either the question wasn’t fully understood OR, more likely, Mr Cutts decided to take a politician’s attitude towards the question. The quote below highlights the fence sitting attitude i’m talking about:

As we get better we’re more willing to show .com’s if we think that they’re really relevant to a given country.

I totally agree! Why shouldn’t a UK searcher buy Car Insurance from a German company that do not operate in the UK – which in this instance isn’t happening here. However, say you want to go off on a nice camping site trip, you could type the term ‘campsites’ into

Google UK SERPs for the term Campsites on 19th August 2009

Google UK SERPs for the term Campsites on 19th August 2009

As much I love traveling to the US I don’t know if I fancy going to Texas on a camping trip! So is hosted in the US, doesn’t include ‘UK’ in the title (using the example Matt Cutts provided in his video) and is completely non-UK focused BUT appears on page one in Google UK for the keyword search term ‘Campsites’. There are a vast amount of backlinks from US hosted websites pointing to the website – so i’m finding it hard to see how or why this website is relevant to a UK audience?

Another example i’ve come across is for ‘Daily News‘ and yet again searching in the UK brings up ‘Tanzania Daily News’, ‘New York Daily News’ and ‘Sri Lanka Daily News’. Yes you may argue that ‘Daily News’ isn’t such a widely used term in the UK – however – I was quite surprised by this Google insights chart demonstrating the volume between ‘Daily News’ and ‘Local News’. 40% of the SERPs pages are in fact non-UK focused, so why would you continue to use that search term?

Google insights chart for Daily News and Local News in the UK

What I would have liked to have seen was a good quality honest answer that spoke about why, in some sectors, there is an influx of non-UK specific websites that ‘relate’ to the search query at hand. I thought it was a good honest question from Guavarian, which should have been met with a clearer answer. I believe competition is good – very good – and I do generally think that Google do try as best as they possibly can to serve up the most accurate results for the search term at hand, sadly the latest algorithm update hasn’t achieved this in some sectors.