We have all heard the “knowledge is power”, and Google is working to bring that knowledge to the fingertips of its users. As website owners, our job is to ensure that knowledge, as subject matter experts, reaches our target audience. To get the most out of the changes that Google has made to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), understanding how the changes affect both users and site owners is crucial.
In recent months, there has been a shift in the way information on the Google Search Engine Results Page is being collected and presented. This change is important for both users and website owners as the algorithms affect how information is both ranked and found. Here is a look at how this is being done and how this changes the user experience.
Search Engine Results for the End User
Google “crawls” or navigates information by following links from one page to another. These pages are sorted by their content and other factors. Algorithms, based on the following factors, are in place to help the search engine better understand what users are searching for:
Search Methods – “Search by image” and “voice search” have been added so users have multiple ways to search for information.
Google Instant – Results are now immediately displayed as you type in a word or phrase.
Spelling – Spelling errors are identified, corrected whenever possible, and alternatives are provided to pinpoint optimum results.
Auto-complete – This feature predicts what you might be searching for. The purpose of this is to help the search engine determine what you are searching for when words have multiple meanings.
Synonyms – When a user makes a search query, the engine is able to recognize words with similar meanings and offer results that are relevant to those meanings.
Query Comprehension – Algorithms are in place to gather a more comprehensive meaning of the words that you type into the search engine.
With the help of this process, Google is now able to pull more relevant data from its index for improved search results.
Why is this information important to website owners? Your audience is able to find results in a number of ways: via images, by what other users are searching for, and through tangentially related content. One way of addressing this is to add relevant images to your site and ensure that keyword research is relevant to your business goals. Ask your digital marketing consultant for additional ways to improve the search engine rankings of your website.
Search Results for Site Owners
There are over 200 factors that affect page rankings, some of which include:
Website and Webpage Quality affect Google search results as well. Google uses a set of signals to determine whether or not your site is a legitimate source. How authoritative, reputable, or trustworthy a source is affects rankings because Google pays attention to links between pages for relevance.
Freshness highlights the search results show the latest news and information, including fresh results when users are searching for specific dates.
Safe Search means that the number of adult web pages, images, and videos are reduced in a user search results.
User Context is applied to search results insofar as the searches that you conduct and your web activity is saved when the feature is turned on and you are signed into you Google account. Google can provide relevant results with this information, including geographic location and web activity, among other things.
Language and Country, language you speak and the country in which you live, also factor into the relevance of the search results that are displayed.
Universal Search consists of images, maps, videos, news, and information from other Google products you use (Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google+, for example) are also combined into a single, unified search results page.
As a website owner, you should know the areas of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP ). The components of the SERP include: Knowledge Graph, Local Listings, Carousel, Organic, Adwords, and Product Adwords
The Knowledge Graph Panel displays information collects about people, places, things, and objects in the real world. This feature works to understand the relationships between things. As a result, Google is able to better target what users are searching for. The Knowledge Graph panel is displayed next to the web results on desktop, tablet, and smartphone. By combining what others have searched for and what others have found to be of interest, Google is better able to aid your search process.
Local Listings or ads for local businesses are displayed toward the top of the Google results. Google has begun emphasizing results based on user’s location. More than 50% of Google searches are now conducted on mobile devices, so when users are on the move, delivering nearby results can make a significant difference in conversion rates. Often, local results appear with relevant information such as user reviews and maps, both of which enable users to make intelligent choices about whether or not to use a certain business or company.
The Carousel is a series of images that are displayed at the top of the results page. Users are able to gain a “big picture” perspective by seeing a number of collections and lists from the Knowledge Graph. This helps you research a topic in a faster, more efficient way.
Organic Results are pages of websites, indexed by Google, that have not paid for the opportunity to be displayed in the most prominent area of the page when users are conducting relevant searches. Organic search results are also not static. They change over time as hundreds of factors influence rankings, some of which are listed below:
• Publication time/date
• Domain authority
• Link profile
• Social shares
• Brand mentions
• Keyword relevance/density
If a webpage appears at the top of Google’s organic search results section of the SERP one day, that does not necessarily mean it will remain in that position.
Adwords advertisements can be displayed in a variety of formats and options so that advertisers can leverage Google’s far reach.
Product Adwords: In 2012, e-commerce websites were able to promote their products through a format that displays an image of the product. Product displays were relevant to the user’s search and include pricing information. These ads are generally displayed above organic search results, but may also be shown elsewhere on the SERP. Users benefit from this format as it allows them to compare product prices from multiple retailers without the need to shop around on different websites.
As the expanding landscape of online knowledge changes and is stored and categorized over time, Google is likely to continue refining the SERP to deliver faster and more tailored results to users. Staying engaged, as a site owner, can help your business better reach potential clients and customers.
For more information about the Google Search Engine Results Page, contact a digital marketing consultant .