Is Google moving the goalposts?
Friday, November 28, 2008/
Google’s latest innovation could mean the end of search engine marketing as we know it. FRED SCHEBESTA
By Fred Schebesta
Is it the end of search engine marketing as we know it?
Google launched a new feature on its search engine that may completely change the way people search engine market their websites. First let me give you a crash course on what has happened:
- Personalisation of search results: Google now allows you to modify the results to your liking – if you like a result you can move it up the rankings and if you don’t like a result you can remove it.
- Commenting on results: Google now allows you to comment on any page of results. So individually your competitors can comment on your results and you can comment on theirs. I have a feeling this is going to cause a good bit of slagging when it comes to some niches!
So users can view results of web searches how they want to view them. The main reason behind Google actually adding this feature was because 40% of people returned repeatedly to the same results page because they used it as a bookmarking tool.
So Google decided to “favilitate” that and allow people to mix up their results to their preference. Google has always wanted to provide the most relevant results for any search, and personalising the results to users is just another step along that vision.
But an important note about the results manipulation…
The results that are displayed are only seen when:
- A particular user is signed into Google. If you are not signed into Google you see the normal results that the public sees.
- Comments and suggested ranking changes by users are not shown before a user makes their own changes to a listing. They are also submitted only as coming from “searcher”, it isn’t “George from Albury” for instance.
Is it really the end of search marketing as we know it?
The big factor that is keeping search marketing a game about inbound links and clean code is that Google’s normal results, when you are not logged in, are not being manipulated by users comments and rankings adjustments… (yet!). So the game hasn’t changed, just the way users can bookmark their websites has.
How to leverage this for your search marketing:
- Comment on your own website and your competitors. You never know what might happen in the future with the display of public comments and rankings adjustments.
- Watch this space as it is a real game changer if more changes occur. The main reason is that it won’t be just all about inbound links, it will also be about providing maximum value to web visitors so that they leave you positive comments.
Myths and speculations revealed
Are results determined by users’ manipulated rankings in Google? Not yet. But watch this space.
Although I have an alternative theory.
I believe Google tracks the time between a browser clicking different results on a search listing. For example, imagine if a browser goes to a webpage and clicks on a result. If that webpage is full of spam and AdSense, they will immediately leave and go back and click another Google listing.
If the browser spends more time on the second webpage I believe Google will score the first result lower and the second one higher over time. The reason for this is that it has a lower bounce rate and the relevancy of the result is better.
Suggestions, regardless of reality
Add tools (perhaps a basic calculator) and valuable content for your web visitors to your website. It will decrease your bounce rate and perhaps (??) increase your Google rankings.
Regardless of the rankings, it will definitely improve your traffic numbers with more visitors revisiting and referring people to your site.
Related story: Turn leads to conversions with killer content
Fred Schebesta’s company Freestyle Media is an established innovative online marketing agency specialising in building search engine friendly corporate websites and running online marketing campaigns.
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