One of the major developments over the last year has been the expansion of universal search elements into the organic Google SERPS. Many SEO specialists previously regarded the ‘traditional’ organic listings as the only true measure of ranking sucess – which was (and still is) true to a certain extent. Many of the universal elements were treated as somewhat of an afterthought – “They’ll take care of themselves” being the prevailing attitude. However, what is now becoming increasingly clear is that managing these universal search elements correctly is now crucial to establishing a robust online presence.
As we are all aware, Google loves to tinker and constantly update its search methodologies, this has helped it stay ahead of the competition since the day it was launched. What we (as SEOers) must now realise is that ‘everything’ outwith Pay Per Click is now an essential element of the SEO process.
Here are some examples of some important universal search elements:
Google Local - the typical Google Local results page (such as this Norwich Hotel example) now holds a huge amount of information and is an example of Google pulling all its data into one resource page. There are at least 5 Google properties at work in a local listing:
- Google Maps map of the location
- Picasa – pictures of the business
- Youtube – video of the location in action
- User related content
- Organic SERPS
Just look at the length of this page! This was about the smallest legible size i could make the image!
Norwich Hotel - Google Local Listing
Real-Time Search – the most recent and controversial update – Google now pulls results in from Twitter and the Blogosphere almost the instant that they are published. You can see the real time results for any term by searching for your term, clicking ‘Show Options’ and then ‘Latest’ – this will give you a results page that updates as relevant tweets and posts are published. Where real time seach begins to have a real effect on organic listings is when Google opts to place a ‘Latest Results’ box into the traditional organic search space, for example Tiger Woods……
Tiger Woods Latest Results - not what you think!
There is an ongoing analysis of which search terms Google opts to insert Real-Time Results boxes for, and why.
Image search – if you’re selling anything where the image is everything, for example art prints or unique designed T-Shirts, optimising your images for Google Image search is absolutely vital. Fortunately, there are techniques which can be used to ensure you’re images appear as high as possible (Dave Naylor has a typically excellent guide). From a purely personal perspective, im actually more prepared to click through several pages of image listings (as opposed to one or two Organic) to get what i want – i suspect this is true for most users.
Of course, these are but a few of the aspects that we are now covering – when you throw Google News, Product Search, YouTube and more into the mix it looks like we are going to be very busy over the coming months!
Needless to say, ill be looking into all this in much more detail in the weeks ahead.