Live from Pro SEO: The New Google Search Results

By Evan Levy | May 16, 2011
More Articles by Evan


Search results have changed, we must change with them.  Here are some of the new types of search results Google is showing.

First, try the local/maps/places results.  Something interesting about these results, is that they CTR does not follow the typical ranking expectations.  Some lower places results will have a better click through rates than the higher listings.  Local business center will tell you how many times you were displayed in a result.  This will also show you your potential CTR.  Make sure your CTR is what you want it yo be.  Figure out what kind local/places result is generating traffic for you.  Make sure you claim and fill out everything possible.  Some correlation seems to exist that the more filled out the profile is, the better it’s doing.  Citations = rankings in places.  Regardless of whether it’s a followed link.  If the source is listed on the local page, it probably counts.  Look to see which citations are showing in your places pages.  Click on the more results button and see what profiles are in the places results, and get profiles on those properties.

Google News: It’s extremely important to be in the top of the rankings for news results within the first few hours, because you will not be there long.  Inclusion is becoming more and more lenient.  News source attribution meta tags allow users to specify where the story came from.  Timing is critical.  All news stories big and small have dramatic traffic spikes.  Traffic is there briefly, and then disappears.  One of the best ways to stay on-top of this is twitter.  On-page is big too.  The title of the article, and what is the title on the page.  Sources can be critical too.  One way to rank for news stories is to take a new angle.  Google will hide thousands of articles about the same thing behind one they decide to display, but if you take a different angle you have a much better chance to rank.
Google news homepage is like the old “digg effect.”

Image Results: It seems like providing attribution for images hurts rankings.  Pages/images at the top of the rankings almost never credit the original source.  CSS pulling an image hurts image rankings.   Use the direct embeds in the code.

Video results are great for traffic as well.  Make sure to have your video sitemaps in because the rich snippet with increase CTR.  One recommendation, to increase CTR on video results, use a face.  People love interacting with other people’s faces.

Shopping: it’s incredibly hard for small brands to get in these results on a consistent basis.  Google biases towards big brands in shopping results, so focus on the long tail.

Discussion results:  Dominant, they take up a lot of vertical space.  Almost to the extent of if you were using site links.  The great thing is you don’t have to do anything special to your site.  If you have a standard forum or discussion area, you can show up here.

Results from my social circle: These results may outweigh links in the classic sense for ranking signals in the future.  Sharing annotations from social connections shows who has shared.  Facebook, Yahoo, Flickr, Linkedin, Quora, twitter, and yelp are where this data is coming from.  A like in Facebook does not seem to me enough.  You need a share, a tweet, a +1 to rank.  Company pages convert likes to friends.  Share is a more intensive, lower conversion activity, but that’s probably exactly why Google thinks it’s worthwhile.  Flickr can be quite powerful.  Sharing content here can help build a network pretty quickly.  Linkedin updates don’t seem to hit Google.  It might be because you can’t get what URL’s are being shared through the API, but it might in the future.  Quora, is working.  It has followers like Twitter.  Find topics with lots of followers but no answers, and answer them.  Will help push your results up.  Upvotes are majorly impacted by graphics and photos.  Include one in your answers and it will boost your influence.  Twitter is one of the most powerful networks for social circle.  Google is using the Yelp network, but nothing that’s shared on Yelp is showing up on the social circle results.

Related searches for brands on generic keywords:  User searches for “snowboards” and brands come up with links to Burton, K2, etc. These brands are usually the best selling or the best known brands.  Ranking here is likely using a data source like freebase.com (but not public).  They are also not necessarily the most common words/phrased searched for.  Co-citation is probably a big part of this as well.  Co-citation is probably what is going to get you into the related searches links.

Google suggest/instant is a powerful branding opportunity.  Everyone searching for this brand will see these suggestions as well.  The visibility for this is huge, and is a great area to capitalize on.  If you can get your brand name to come up for a generic word, scotch triggers, “Johnny Walker”.  A threshold to appear here seems to exist.  Branding and advertising to “beg the query.”  Let your ads leave out information you want people to search on.  Social links to search results.  Don’t share the link, share the search result.  Now, you get the branded query, you get the CTR, and you get personalization bias.  Suggest is influenced by content.  If you can get words to appear next to each other all over the internet, when people start searching for it, those words will come up in suggest.  Syndication may not work, but guest blogging, social status, unique content, will work better.

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