Google announced on the Search Liaison Twitter account just now that it has updated its search results to show a more diverse set of search results. That means Google will aim to show no more than two results from the same domain for a particular query in the top results.
More diverse Google results. Searchers, along with SEOs, have complained over the years that sometimes Google shows too many listings for the top search results from the same domain name. So if you do a search for a particular query, you may see 4 or 5 of the top ten results from the same domain name. Google is looking to not show more than two results from the same domain with this search update.
Google said “A new change now launching in Google Search is designed to provide more site diversity in our results.” Google added, “This site diversity change means that you usually won’t see more than two listings from the same site in our top results.”
But not always. Google said it does reserve the right to show more than two results from the same domain name when it thinks it is appropriate. “However, we may still show more than two in cases where our systems determine it’s especially relevant to do so for a particular search,” Google wrote. I suspect this is related to branded queries, so if you are searching for a brand, like Amazon, you likely will see more than just two results from amazon.com listed in the search results.
Sub-domains. Google will generally treat sub-domains as part of the main domain. So if you have blog.domain.com, it will be considered part of the main www.domain.com domain and count towards the two results. Google said “Site diversity will generally treat subdomains as part of a root domain. IE: listings from subdomains and the root domain will all be considered from the same single site.”
Of course, Google reserves the right to treat some subdomains differently, “However, subdomains are treated as separate sites for diversity purposes when deemed relevant to do so,” Google wrote.
Core results only. This only impacts the core results, not the additional search features such as top stories, video snippets, image carousels or other vertical search features listed among the other web results.
Danny Sullivan from Google added on Twitter, “It’s about the main listings, not various other displays on the search results.”
Unrelated to the core update. Google clarified that this search update is unrelated to the June 2019 core update that began rolling out Monday. “Finally, the site diversity launch is separate from the June 2019 Core Update that began this week. These are two different, unconnected releases,” Google said.
But it started rolling out two days ago and is fully live today Sullivan told us. “It started a little bit about two days ago but went fully live today,” he said.
So technically, your analytics and Search Console data can be impacted by both the June 2019 core update and this domain diversity update. How do you know which one impacted you?
However, Danny Sullivan thinks they are far enough apart that we should be able to distinguish between the two updates:
Not an update. Google is saying this is not really an update and won’t have as much as of impact on your site. Danny Sullivan from Google added, “Personally, I wouldn’t think of it like an update, however. It’s not really about ranking. Things that ranked highly before still should. We just don’t show as many other pages.” Whatever you want to call it, it changed how some URLs are shown in the search results.
It’s not perfect. Yes, you will still find examples of Google showing more than two results from a single domain for a search result set. Google said “It’s not going to be perfect. As with any of our releases, we’ll keep working to improve it,” when they were given an example of a result set that showed too many Yelp.com results:
History. Google has updated how the domain diversity works in Google search many times over the years. In 2010, it said it “launched a change to our ranking algorithm that will make it much easier for users to find a large number of results from a single site.” In 2012, the pendulum began to swing back to more domain diversity in search results. And again in 2013, Google said it would show fewer results from the same domain name. Google has probably made numerous changes to domain diversity in search many more times, we just didn’t have a confirmation from Google all of the time.
Why we should care. This can impact those who aim to try to get their domains to dominate for specific queries. This is more often seen in the reputation management industry but can also related to other areas of search. If you do have sites that have two or more pages that rank for the same query in Google, you will want to track and see how this Google update impacts those sites.