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How Google’s new keyboard for iPhone is changing SEO

The launch of Gboard — Google’s new keyboard for iOS is flipping how SEO content is ranked on its head !!

For those using GBoard, when comparing search results versus regular mobile search, despite being largely based around the same algorithms, users may be surprised to note some differences.

Rajan Patel, a principal engineer at Google explains:

“It’s really early, so we’re kind of experimenting with what the ranking is for the right use case,” Patel said.

Patel said that Gboard may give preference to moving direct answers higher up the results. For example, a Knowledge Graph answer about a company might come midway in mobile results but move to the first listing with Gboard.

Patel also went on record saying News listings are likely to be shown higher in Gboard listings. He explains this is because keyboard-based searchers “may be doing some type of sharing activity”. In such cases, Google’s making an assumption that recent information such as news stories may be more useful. This is not new or surprising and has been known for a long time the “in the news” block on Google Search has been treated differently across devices.

Lets take a look at some of the differences. In this search for “Amazon” we can see some huge differences in the results.

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All those crossing arrows make it clear that Google hasn’t just presented its mobile search results in a horizontal format. There are a number of ranking changes, as well as various blocks of listings not shown at all.

Here’s another example, one for “weather,” that shows how news listings get elevated within Gboard

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As you can see, both give you the local weather first, but Gboard then moves news stories higher than web listings. In addition, the news stories it shows aren’t the same as with the mobile search results.

So how about local results? For the two local searches we did, results were largely unchanged. Special local results at the top of the mobile listings, which have star ratings and options to call businesses or get directions, also got the same treatment in Gboard

Gboard is fairly unique for Google search products in that it has no long-term memory of who someone is, which in turn reduces the personalisation of search results — another reason why mobile search results and Gboard results might differ.

Someone who is logged into Google builds up a long-term history of things they’ve searched for (unless they opt out), which is used to help customise the results received. This history is associated with the person’s account, so they’re identified even if they use different devices, as long as they’re logged in on those devices.

Gboard has no such memory. Any searches done within Gboard are not recorded to your account, even if you’re logged into Google in some other way, such as within your browser. This means Gboard also cannot tap into any search history you’ve accumulated, in order to personalise your results.

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