This week's Google I/O conference delivered some serious SEO gems (between the standard corporate fluff). Let's dive into the most more important I/O announcements and how they will impact SEO right now, but also what it means for the future of user search behavior.
The first major Google I/O announcement introduced Multisearch Near Me, which adds a location element to the original Multisearch feature. With Multisearch, you initiate a search query on your phone with a photo and follow it up with a question. The update allows you to add “near me” to the search to deliver local results. So, if you take a picture of food and want to look for a restaurant that serves it, Multisearch Near Me can deliver the local results. Why does this matter? This feature is brining to live the "search anything, anywhere" vision. Bringing multiple levels of Google search features (image search, questions, local) into a single experience. For SEOs, this means more vectors for brand discovery, and more opportunities for optimization.
The second most important I/O announcement revolves around a new image ranking signal. Google launched filter by skin tone in Google Images, backed up by a new inclusive schema that you can use to markup images for this filter. The use case here revolves around search like “everyday eyeshadow,” where image results filtered by skin tone provide a significantly better experience. The new inclusive schema is designed around the Monk Skin Tone (MST) scale, schema allows you to send image data like skin tone and hair color directly to Google. Even stepping back from he inclusive aspects of this feature, it's a solid move to provide better results based on the actual elements within an image. For SEOs, it gives us another lever to pull in schema and image optimization to help our images rank better in search results.
Some other important I/O announcements included an update to ad privacy, giving searchers more control over the types of ads they see in search results. Even as SERPs are crowded more and more by ads, people still want organic. This might impact some ad performance down the road, so your SEO play becomes even more important as a parallel search marketing strategy. In another privacy announcement, Google is also updating the personal data removal tool to make it easier to request removal of personal information.
Among all the feature announcements, it's important to step back and ponder — what is Google’s direction here? The theme of the updates revolve around greater integration and interaction with search in the world. More ways to search, and more ways for search to seep in our daily lives. Is that a good thing? It certainly means that SEO will continue to be incredibly valuable, and our skill sets will need to continue to grow as we face a world of voice optimization, augmented reality content strategy, and much more.
If you’re interested, here’s a nice summary video of Google I/O that’s only 11 minutes long.