The term “search engine” is often used to describe sites such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and even DuckDuckGo.
Take a look at the official definition provided by Google itself on the term Search Engine.
“A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.”
In the past, this definition was more than accurate. Google focused heavily on the fact that pages were ranked based on keyword usage. The more times a specific keyword was mentioned on a page, the better chance it had at ranking well.
So if someone was looking for an Italian restaurant in town, they would type into the search bar: “Italian Restaurant in New York City”. The results would consist of pages that mention the keyword phrase “Italian Restaurant” and “New York City” multiple times.
Digital marketers refer to this technique as “keyword stuffing”. Today, this technique is extremely frowned upon and Google will actually penalize a site that uses this technique.
Now, we know what you are thinking: “Wait… what? Keyword stuffing was a best practiced SEO tip. Why is it penalized by Google today?!”
The answer is simple. User trends have changed. People are more likely to ask Google questions instead of typing in a keyword. This stems from the extreme popularity of voice search.
More people than ever are talking to their phones and other devices in their home to provide them with quick answers. So when a user is looking for that Italian restaurant we mentioned above, they are most likely going to say: “I want Italian food” or “What is the best Italian restaurant near me”.
Today, natural language is more important than ever. Google isn’t focused on providing people with results that match specific keywords. Instead, Google focuses on finding sources that provide a user with the answer they are looking for.
So, no. Google is not a search engine. But instead an answer engine. Providing answers to billions of users all around the world.
Are you proving the answers your audience is looking for? Give us a call to see how we can help shape your digital content strategy to meet Google’s standards.