Google has always maintained that it wants to give its users the very best results by returning higher quality and relevant websites whilst at the same time providing additional detailed information on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Today we’re going to look at how the SERPs appear when performing a Google Universal Search (the default Google search) and explore just some of the key elements that now make up these results.
Images results have been a prominent feature of Google’s SERPs for a long time now. For websites that are image heavy, ensuring that images are optimised well onsite is important for trying to ensure that they appear in these results. This means that descriptive and keyword rich text is used (when appropriate) for file names, alt tags and Meta descriptions. Including an image sitemap and submitting it to Google Webmaster Tools is also helpful (WordPress users can download plugins that will generate these automatically). Images can send considerable traffic to a website, and so don’t over-look these simple aspects of website search engine optimisation (SEO).
2. News & Blogs
News results have become increasingly visible in Google over the last 18 months. Google’s keen to show relevancy in its results and as such it’s able to recognise when news trends start appearing in the media and associating this with searches around key subjects in order to present fresh, related stories to its users (in preference to times when there is little media output for the same subject). In terms of SEO, this highlights the importance of creating unique, regular fresh news, press releases and published comment on issues related to your online business. In order to get into Google’s News results, online businesses need to submit their onsite news feeds for possible inclusion in Google’s results – the criteria for inclusion can be found here – be warned, it’s not easy!
For ecommerce websites, it’s naturally vital to ensure that your products and services appear in as many places as possible online. Generating a Google Product Feed and submitting this through the Google Merchant Centre will help ensure that your products appear in the shopping results in the SERPs. There are a lot of criteria for creating your Product Feed correctly – find the many criteria and attributes here.
Again, during the last 18 months, Google has perhaps made some of its most significant developments in how it generates the SERPs in relation to specific localised results.
Many regular users of Google will have noticed what is referred to by search marketers as ‘blended results’. These results take organic website results and literally blend them with listings in Google Places – Google’s local directory of businesses and organisations. How often they show depends on what Google has determined as the user’s search location (which it can do in several ways) or their location settings when using the search engine.
Online businesses and organisations can give themselves the best chance of appearing in these results by claiming and optimising all aspects of a Google Places listing.
5. Google Knowledge Graph
The most recent addition to the SERPs, Google Knowledge Graph attempts to give users detailed information about a keyword on the right hand side of the screen – so searching for ‘York Minster’ for example, will show information about the historic building, together with sources of where Google has found this information and further related information that it feels might be useful to the searcher. It aims to answer questions, not just deliver results from the information it’s collated. How this will affect brands and online businesses is yet to be conclusively decided, however, it shows that the SERPs will only get increasingly richer in the diversity of information presented on them – and this will undoubtedly have an effect on how people use search engines in the future because its now no longer necessary to leave the SERPs page to get the answer to your search query on every occasion.
6. Instant Preview
This function gives Google users the ability to see a snapshot of the website page that has appeared in the SERPs (including on Google Adwords results) whilst showing additional information such as when the page was last cached by Google and the ability to search for related pages. This highlights the importance of ensuring that web pages are not only well optimised for search engines, but that they are also visually appealing.
7. Rich Snippets
These are the additional pieces of information that Google inserts directly beneath a search result. They can include review information about products and services along with a star rating system as well as contact information or blog author details. Rich Snippets are created by the website owner adding additional code to their website so that Google can associate individual pages with this information and then decide if it deems this information relevant to their users. For webmasters, follow this link for detailed information about how to implement Rich Snippets.
Get specialist SEO advice
If this post has inspired you to find out more about SEO and website optimisation to make your online business more visible to your customers, then please contact the specialist web marketing team at the Floating Frog.