Maybe Google was feeling the Spring-cleaning vibes, or perhaps it was just a time for a new change. Either way, Google has made some important modifications to its search engine results page (SERP) and Google+. And as with most Google changes, it’s important for marketers to determine how it impacts their online marketing strategy.
Let’s take a look at each, shall we?
Google Search Layout
Although the change was made with good intentions— Google wanted to create a consistent user experience across various devices—that hasn’t provided protection against the backlash of users who hate the new layout (although there’s something to be said about people being resistant to change on the Internet). But regardless of their opinion, it’s here to stay. Here’s what you should know:
- Paid search results are no longer in a yellow box. To differentiate between Google ads and organic search results, paid links will have a small yellow box with the word “Ad” next to it. A faint line will also separate these paid results from the “real” results section.
- Titles will now be truncated in the new layout. Instead of the 70 characters that were allowed for SEO optimization, marketers now have 59-60 characters.
- Simple aesthetic alterations include a new font and no underlines in links.
Why It’s Important:
- Google ads now blend in more with organic search, which means the SERP battlefield just got a bit more competitive. When a user Googles something, her eyes aren’t going to move as quickly from the ads down to the organic results. So, there’s a greater chance for Google ads to get more hits than your webpage.
- Truncated titles will impact SEO; less character space means you’ll have to create even more strategic titles.
What You Can Do:
- Write strategic, attention-grabbing headlines. You may also need to create new titles for web pages and old blog posts to ensure they don’t get cut off on the new page. Not addressing this small detail could be the difference between someone clicking through to your site or a competitor’s.
- Create killer content. More competition means you’ll need to enhance your content strategy with even more targeted content. The best way to learn more about your audience? Create a buyer persona if you haven’t already. With that tool, you’ll set the best foundation for your content. Add a little SEO in there to optimize it and keep your website front and center, and you’ll be golden.
- Utilize extras. Google authorship, meta descriptions, menus, and Google+; all of these can be used to enhance your search results. Or, get in on the Google ads action.
- Embrace other strategies. At the end of the day, your marketing success isn’t exclusive to search. There are plenty of other ways to get discovered, such as social or email, so take advantage of them!
The search layout wasn’t the only entity to get a little facelift; Google+ received an update as well. Even though the site has often been the butt of social networking jokes, it’s important for a few reasons:
- In a move that’s rather reminiscent of Facebook, Google+ will display a much larger thumbnail image when you link to a webpage with a high quality picture. The enhanced link post will also include some text from the webpage, as well as a link to the source’s Google+ page (another sign that Google+ is becoming more important that ever).
Why it’s Important:
- Almost a third of the top pages on Google+ consisted of news and content sites in 2013. With more noticeable link posts and clickable headlines and images, brands can expect an increase in Google+ referrals and engagement with their Google+ page.
What You Can Do:
- Get on Google+ if you’re not on it already! Many tech prophets anticipate Google+ to become a critical element of the overall Google strategy—a prediction is already being slowly fulfilled. So as soon as you’re done reading this, set up your page and optimize it.
- Post Images and Links. Google+ is known for being image-heavy, and it’s critical to a post’s success. One of the reasons why National Geographic and Time are in the top 10 Google+ pages is because they share links with stunning photos. This is a minimum requirement—don’t neglect it! Additionally, now’s the time to share more links with users.
- Use Circles to Target Your Content. If you have different niche audiences, Circles allows you to create and share content that only they can see. If you’re a medical facility that focuses on various health departments, for example, this is a great way to send pertinent information to specific audiences who need it most.