Google has made a series of smaller announcements (including the launch of a user survey) to the API specifications for Google Search Console which signal significant changes ahead that can alter how SEO tasks are managed.
Google WebMaster Trends analyst Martin Splitt noted during a recent episode of SEO Mythbusting that Google is looking into a Google Search Console API that allows external users. Google launched the SEO Mythbusting series on YouTube this year to educate developers and marketers on what works and what doesn’t for SEO.
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Google Asks, 'What Do You Want From the Search API?'
The API talk goes beyond mere speculation. Google also launched a survey asking developers, SEO specialists, marketers and other tech professionals what they would like to see from the Search Console API. The survey asks participants to rank their most useful API feature, and describe how the data would be used. The current API focuses on parameters regarding search queries and sites associated through Search Console.
The survey feeds into Google’s quest to expand Search Console from its initial role as a diagnostic tool. Over a year ago Google redesigned the interface for better reporting, with a stronger emphasis on search traffic. It later made 16 months of Search Console data available for users.
More is expected with an eye towards mobile behavior. Last month Google announced it will add indicators for Mobile First Indexing within the Search Console reporting. The indicators reveal the date your site was transferred to a mobile first indexing, appearing as an annotation which also notes what kind of Googlebot — be it Googlebot for desktop or Googlebot for smartphone — is indexing the site. The change can help SEO professionals and marketers diagnose the quality of a website indexing or crawling issues. It will reveal if a given site is indexing for what it's supposed to represent.
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Potential Implications of Google Search API Changes
The API changes have clear technical implications: the current API is in Python and Java, but an expansion would likely better account for other data standards, such as JSON. But they go further than that, to impact more operational elements.
For starters, Splitt suggests in the future, content management platforms will be able to incorporate search console data into their reports, rather than toggling back and forth between the two interfaces. Marketers will eventually need to see how their platforms can import data and permit ease of report integration.
The API change also signals how technical SEO may be managed in the near future. Technical SEO is one of three SEO areas developers focus on to adjust the SEO on a site (the others being on page SEO and off site SEO). Technical SEO mainly relates to how the underlying code of a site is seen by a search engine. This means a crawl index, the number of times a search engine reviews pages and page elements to interpret the purpose of a site — and sitemap, text file that indicates what pages are associated with a site. Understanding what kinds of crawl and index issues developers want noted can help Google make further improvements.
By surfacing more data from third parties, as Splitt suggests, the API will raise the potency of data models which can help marketers determine which visits by a given keyword phrase lead into a sustainable conversion.
Another idea is applying word association and sentiment techniques to keywords. For years SEO practitioners strove to interpret behaviors based on the search terms people used. Applying sentiment analysis would allow a great understanding of customer sentiment about products, services, and brand. A richer Google Search Console API would lead into deeper statistical analysis against other data in a Python or R programming model.
At a time where tech platforms of all ilk are exploring third party access to data, it is intriguing to see Google examine what access would be most beneficial to the users of its Search Console platform. I think the ultimate benefit achieved will be richer SEO research and implementation.
The Google API Survey is still open for those interested in participating.