Changes to Google – both present and forthcoming – have a lot of digital marketers on edge this week. Others dismiss the rumors as Google’s way of taking the spotlight off the “Search Plus Your World” controversy (that Google’s own product is being favored, and search relevancy is decreasing). Either way, changes are a comin’, and we all should be ready to analyze and understand Google’s supposed future new way of functioning.
Google + Personal Results – Off To The Right, Now
Google dominates a little over 66 % of the overall search market, according to recent research, even after Search Plus Your World debuted to a not-so-friendly response. So despite peoples’ general hesitation when it comes to personalized search results, Google is soldiering on with just one of what we’re sure will be many revamps to the way social results show up in the SERPs.
We first learned about this from Search Engine Land – a new update to Google’s personal results has Google Plus taking over the first page in some instances. Let me explain.
Usually, when you Google a brand with +Direct Connect enabled with its brand page, the results show up here:
Please note that, while I am signed into my Google account currently, this phenomenon occurs when users are signed out as well.
However, as S.E.L. reports, some Google Plus related results now show up where ads would, on the right side of the page. They did their test with “tv guide,” we did ours with H&M (any excuse to browse, right?!) We thought we’d check this out for ourselves, and we got the following results for H&M:
As you can see, Google Plus information for H&M now shows up to the right of the organic search results, so that H&M totally dominates the entire page of results. Though ads would normally reside on the right side, Google has nixed them here in favor of Google Plus related results.
This new change puts even more emphasis on Google Plus than before, and allows for those on the network to dominate more real estate on the SERPs. How this would roll out to smaller brands, I’m not sure – but the bigger, more visible brands will likely benefit. For instance, when I Googled EverSpark (we did connect our Google Plus page to our website, by the way), here’s what came up:
Nada on the side of the page! Not even any ads!
Also as S.E.L. reports, personal results are experiencing a similar phenomenon. When Search Plus Your World first rolled out, Google Plus profiles definitely became more prominent, showing up as suggestions when you’re searching and ending up somewhere in the organic results. Now, check out where the results end up:
There I am, front and center…well, actually – right and top!
Future Changes: Answers at the Top
It has been widely reported, by the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and by Fox News, to name just a couple, that Google plans, in the future, to answer search queries as accurately as possible above the search results. The thing is, the first thing we thought (and you probably did too), is that Google does this already for many queries, and has been for years. Back in August, we blogged about something called “Best Guess,” (and we were even late to this party – like, years late!) which basically returned a best guess for a factual answer to your query. It only did this for limited queries, but we tested it to find out the release date of a movie, and it returned a best guess to us. I have noticed that it does show up more and more. For instance, during the super Bowl, my friends and I were debating Madonna’s age, so I Googled it. Check out what the search engine returned to me:
Google gave me a good best guess for Madonna’s age.
So, what are the news outlets reporting for the future of Google? Proclaiming that a new search overhaul will make it so that in the future, when you search for something, Google will do its best to return direct answers and factual information ahead of the usual organically ranked related websites. It is predicted that this could not only dramatically change search, but it could also dramatically change SEO. So – since this is already occurring for many queries, my best guess is that perhaps Google is planning on doing more with Semantic Search? Bringing it to ALL queries?
Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan expressed an opinion that might provide a better answer to this strange cropping up of old info: “My take is that Google’s pushing these technologies for some good PR, and they are in turn being blown up out of proportion to what will really happen. Google’s been under intense pressure in some quarters since rolling out Search Plus Your World…It’s helpful to counter that type of bad PR with interviews talking up forward-looking technologies.”
Whatever the reason for Google getting out there and talking up a technology that the search engine already uses, it may be true that it could seriously affect the way digital marketers operate in the future if it is more widely rolled out.
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