This post is a guest post by Angie
Over the years, Google has evolved from a simple search engine into a universal essential resource for shopping, local events, local and international news, learning and development and much more.
As Google’s capabilities and services have grown and developed, I turn my attention to how the introduction of new products and services by Google has changed the face of SEO and online marketing.
First of all, let’s look at some of different Google products (outside of standard Google Search) that should be optimised for.
If you offer your products or services in a particular area, it is extremely important to be listed in Google places as you’re likely to generate a number of real visitors to your shop or restaurant as well as website visitors.
If you only have a web presence, Google Places will still benefit you by driving traffic and increasing awareness in your local area.
Optimising for Google Places can provide a great stream of local traffic and top first page listing for very little effort. Getting listed in Google Places is a fairly simple process, but not one to be overlooked.
Images on your website or blog can send a good stream of traffic if optimised correctly (this will also help with your normal SEO, so should be standard practice). Fairly simple tactic here – name the image with a relevant file name and give it a relevant ‘alt’ attribute. Not hard, but many people don’t bother!
Google Shopping Results
This is probably the most beneficial in terms of converting traffic to your site. This is achieved through signing up to Google Merchant Centre and will see your products advertised near the top of the first page of Google with an image and a price.
There’s quite a lot that can go into optimising your Merchant Centre feed, but that’s another article.
If you have newsworthy information on your website, you need to ask Google to include it, use the news contact page and fill in the form. You should add some relevant news to your site at least once a week to ensure you are regularly featured in Google News. If you don’t have a news section on your own site, but occasionally have newsworthy stories, try using article distributions sites such as PRWeb and PR Newswire to get your news article listed in Google News and drive relevant traffic back to your site.
Google’s Recent Developments
As well as the multitude of Google products we now have to optimise for, as we near the end of 2010, I find myself looking back over some of the developments Google has made in the past 12 months that have changed search optimisation this year.
Google Instant Search
Instant search is described by Google as the “next wave” in its goal to make search more targeted, faster and better able to understand you and what you want. When Google recently introduced Instant Search, which produces results as you type based on what it predicts you are looking for, there was a lot of speculation about how this would affect SEO. It is fair to say that it will have some fairly significant effects such as:
- A reduction in long tail key phrases sending traffic to your site. Searchers will find a commonly searched keyword that reflects what they are looking for before they type their own individual longer tail phrase.
- A reduction in misspellings in search. Searchers see the correct spelling of their query and can quickly correct spelling errors.
- Top keywords becoming more important. Less search query variations are used resulting in more importance on fewer words and top search queries growing in use.
- Top Positions In Google Grow in Importance.
The drop down box for predictions pushes more results below the fold, putting more emphasis on the top few positions on Google’s first page. This will cause the CTR for positions 1,2 & 3 in Google to increase at the expense of the positions below them.
Google Real Time Search
In August 2010, Google introduced Realtime Search, this integrates twitter and other micro blogging platforms into search. This currently has its own search page http://www.google.co.uk/realtime but is likely to be integrated into mainstream search at some point.
This is yet another step we see in the integration of search and social and we’re likely to see much more of this in the very near future. I fully expect social to become more and more important in search results in the next year.
The introduction of Google Caffeine in June 2010, whereby Google changed their indexing system to have new pages or new information added straight into their index. This has led to faster, fresher information and also means that regularly updated content on a web page has a greater effect than ever before on your positions within Google.
Google Personalised Search
Lastly, jumping back to a year ago in Dec 2009, we saw the introduction of Google’s personalised search, whereby Google will remember sites you have visited before and they will be boosted up the search results for related search queries you make. This is very important as it put more emphasis on the ‘call to action’ element of the Meta title because if you can get searchers to visit your site that first time, they’re then more likely to come across it again in their search results.
So all in all, this past year has seen a lot of changes (many more above and beyond some of the main ones outlined here). It certainly keeps search marketing interesting and we expect to see much more though out 2011.
This guest post is contributed by Angie, she writes on the topic of online marketing.