Google changes mean brands need to increase focus on content

Last week saw major changes in the way Google looks, and in the results it produces. In this guest posting, Andrew Hughes argues that Australians brands will miss major opportunities if they do not make use of the new tools it offers

Almost every internet user in Australia will now have seen the updated Google search results pages known as the “Jazz interface”, and will no doubt have their own thoughts on how it will change the way that they search the web.  

Google jazz interface mumbrellaWith the more prominent News, Blog, Videos and Image search options, there are now more opportunities for users to refine their search results, based on their unique search preferences.

Since the end of last month, a major update of Google’s search infrastructure has also been taking place, with the roll-out of the much awaited changes known as the Caffeine update. These changes should enable Google to improve the search result relevancy through the greater understanding of website authority, reputation and at the same time will enable the deep indexing of content where previously it has been limited.

With the new results pages live, and the roll out of the improved systems architecture, Google can index more web content and better match this content to user searches through improvements to their relevancy matching. This reinforces the need for organisations to publish content in a variety of formats, optimising to support their brand, product and corporate message.

News, video, image and micro-formats are driving the new search results and without a blended search optimisation strategy that takes into account the changing search environment, many companies will only ever be present in the paid and traditional organic search results – missing the opportunity to reach new and wider audiences, simply because they are not providing search engines with the correctly formatted information about their site and rich-media content.

A major feature on the new “Jazz” blended search results page is the increased presence of AdWords, and, this along with the changes to Google Places (formerly Google Local Business) over recent months, has resulted in a number of new format ads being available within the Google Sponsored listings, including maps and directions, video and click to call.

The continued personalisation of search results means that individual search preferences and online behaviour will further influence the search results pages. With real-time search and blog search evolving rapidly, the opportunity to optimise trending real-time topics through quick content creation and the distribution of this highly relevant content through social media channels and news feeds to maximise exposure is becoming more relevant than ever before.

The consequences of all of these changes is increased diversity in the search results, but many businesses are missing opportunities to generate traffic to their sites, simply through not utilising search tools correctly (if at all). Specifically: not using the new localisation tools now available with Google Places and AdWords: Not optimising video, news and images by correct use of sitemaps and site-feed formats, resulting in poorer performance compared to competitors adapting to these changes.

Changes that you can implement immediately:

  • Publish as much relevant content as possible on your own website rather than just to third party sites
  • Link Google AdWords and Google Analytics to improve search engine marketing reporting
  • Link Google AdWords and Google Places – use AdWords enhancements to improve Sponsored Links
  • Install Google webmaster tools (WMT) on each web property (site/blog/forum)
  • Fix and resolve any errors and issues that WMT highlights with your websites
  • Create and submit news, video, image website and mobile sitemaps through WMT
  • Where possible use micro formats within your site to enhance your search listings

Website owners should implement the recommendations outlined above to reinforce their search presence, ensuring that all digital assets are performing optimally in the search space. Search optimisation is an “always on” activity, and without long term commitment and an understanding of the changing search environment it is possible for businesses to find themselves to quickly be left behind.


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