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Why Google’s Broad Core Algorithm Updates Relate to User Intent – Here’s Why #266


Google’s broad core algorithm updates are all about understanding user intent and what queries mean in relation to that intent. If Google knows that, then they can identify which result will give users the best answer.

In this episode, Duane Forrester, VP of Industry Insights at Yext, joins Eric Enge to discuss the relationship between Google’s broad core algorithm updates and user intent, and how this leads to a better search experience.

This video is the first in a four-part series on the impact of user intent on search.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

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Eric: Hey everybody, Eric Enge here. I’m the Principal for the Digital Marketing Solutions business unit at Perficient. Thrilled to have with me today, Duane Forrester, long-time industry legend, I dare say. Formerly of Bing, now of Yext, finding himself from one great company to another. So thrilled to have you here with us today, Duane. Say hello.

Duane: Eric, thank you very much for having me on the show. I appreciate your time here.

Eric: No, absolutely. And, we have this idea, Duane, that we want to go through this series of just how important user intent has become in search, and I’m really looking forward to discussing that with you.

Duane: Absolutely. It is critical today.

Eric: And I think what we wanted to do in this episode was really start talking, really going back in time a little bit and talking about the broad, I can’t even say it, broad core algorithm updates that Google started coming out with, in March of 2018. It seemed like a little bit of a shift in what they were doing, or at least how they were communicating with it about things in the market. But what I started to feel happening then in a big way, in a way that we hadn’t seen before, is that they were really applying all that fantastic machine learning technologies they’ve been building for the longest time, to do a much better job of understanding user intent both from the perspective of, “What does that query mean?” and the best content to serve it.

Duane: Yeah. And you know what, this is a really important point, right? I mean, look, core updates existed before 2018, they were just communicated differently. And that was a great moment, though, because it was an agreement that they would explain, that they would tell and communicate. And since then, something has been very, very clear coming out of Google and Bing, is the focus on user experience and how important that is all up. And, look, we can get mired in the conversations of UX and CX, and what that means, and usability, and all of those things.

Here’s the experience from Google’s mind, okay? The bottom line is, if somebody clicks on a link in a Google search result and it’s organic, and Google thinks, “Hey, look, we’re ranking you number one because we believe you’re the right answer,” and the consumer goes and they don’t get the answer to the question and they bounce back, that immediately tells Google that wasn’t the best experience.

So now Google is redoing its calculations and rethinking everything. All of the technical stuff that we’re talking about, core web vitals, all of the UX that you’re going to invest in, all of this comes from those moments around user experience. And it’s all, for Google, about understanding the user’s intent and what that query means in relation to the intent. If they know that, then they can get really good at giving you the best answer, bringing forward the best result, essentially.

Eric: Right. And what most people don’t understand is just how hard this is to do when you’re bringing, relying on search queries that are two and three words long, and how little information there is there, and how nuanced all this is.

Duane: Think about it this way. Think about, you showed up at a friend’s house for a card game and you met three or four new people at the card game. Now, you know you all play poker, and you know that it’s going to be a social event. But when you communicated with these people, you only communicated in keyword phrases to them. You didn’t use full sentences. You didn’t use an inflection at the end, like maybe you might normally, to indicate a question. You simply throw keyword phrases all evening.

What kind of impression do you think that would leave with them, the experience they’re having with you, and more to the point, how much information could they glean about who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, how to approach you in the future, how to have conversations with you about which topics? It’s just not there. There’s a lot of context missing, right? That’s the bottom line.

Eric: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think it’s an ecosystem that’s really important for us to all understand just how important it is for Google to do a good job of serving that user intent. Bing as well, of course. The better job you do by answering those user needs, if you’re the search engine, the more usage you get of your search engine, and the more you preserve your market share in the process.

Duane: Right. And, you know, to be completely transparent about this, right, these search engines, these are publicly traded companies with a legal requirement to develop actual returns on investments for shareholders. They are a for-profit business. So, it’s not being done out of a sense of altruism. But, everything is being done to try to further the user experience, because they very clearly understand that that user’s experience, all up, from the moment they start a query until they get the product ultimately that they wanted, it’s reflective on everyone in that chain. Your business, and the search engine, you’re all in that together.

Eric: Absolutely. So, this is just the first, folks, of our series of videos on user intent and search. And it’s part of the “Here’s Why” video series. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. If you have, please click the subscribe button below, so you won’t miss any future episodes.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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