Earlier this week it was announced by Google that it has implemented two changes to its results pages in 37 languages all over the world.
The changes have been made in order to further increase its user satisfaction and enhance its results for a better user experience.
The first of these improvements is the introduction of more refined and related search terms, that can be found at the bottom of the results page (and sometimes at the top).
Every time a search query is entered into Google, its algorithm analyses that query to find other related phrases that may also be of use to that user in their quest to find a particular answer or service.
For instance, if you were to type in the phrase ‘search marketing company’ into Google, then you will often see the related search terms; “marketing search engines”, “msn search marketing”, “tailor made marketing”, “organic search marketing”, “marketing promotion companies”, “marketing recruitment agency”, “organic search engine optimisation” and “marketing campaigns”:
It could be argued that if you were looking for a search marketing company then maybe not all of these terms would be of real value.
However if you were looking for information about a fact of science or something similar, then it could return some interesting variations or related terms that may not have been considered by the user. See Google’s example on the “principles of physics”
The second alteration that they have implemented is the introduction of longer page descriptions for each result, also know as ‘snippets’.
In the previous version of Google, the results would appear with the keywords used highlighted within the title and a two line snippet to try to give the user an idea of how the searched words have been used on that particular page.
However, now Google has improved this concept by allowing the snippets to be longer for the longer tailed search terms of three words or more.
It had been found that for some long search queries there was not enough space within the two original lines of description to really convey the context of a particular search result.
For example if a user wanted to find information about one concept in relation to another, then they would most probably enter a detailed search query. This would often mean that not all of the search terms were able to fit within the snippet, therefore not giving the user the true context of the results.
The new improved longer snippets provide enough room to include all the important keywords used and they will also be highlighted in bold to show their importance.
This will help ensure that the user can see the context of the result and the way that all of the words appear on the page, so they can quickly see if that result is going to give them the answer they are looking for.
Here is an example of the longer snippet, for the search query “search engine marketing advertising ppc strategy management”:
Also see Google’s example “earth’s rotation axis tilt and distance from sun”
It will be interesting to see if these changes do make any differences to search behaviour, click through rates or any other aspect of seach engine optimisation.
Some bloggers have stated that changing the length of the snippets may well affect websites in the way that description tags may become insignificant, as the text for the snippet is more likely to come from the text on the site rather than the site description.
This will also make perfect structuring of web pages vital as it will be essential that Google has access to all of the content on the site, as this is where it will want to retrieve the relevant information from to include in the site description.