While everyone has been busy looking at new social network Google+, the search giant has quietly rolled out a new product and tweaked their SERPs. What they haven’t done is get into bed with Amazon – but more on that later.
The new product is a Chrome (and apparently Internet Explorer) extension called ‘Related’. It’s a nifty little tool. Once installed when you’re browsing around the web you will often see a little thin bar at the bottom of your screen offering content related to the page you’re on.
This could include maps, videos, reviews and other sites, providing you with yet more information to consume. Word of warning – you can easily get lost (not to mention lose track of time!) wandering around the internet going from site to site using Google Related.
It’s cracking, give it a go.
Slightly more serious for us SEO’s to consider is the tweak to the SERPs, specifically the display of site links. Previously site links were limited to a single row of four internal pages below the main search result before being improved to two columns of four links (See “The evolution of site links” – Official Google Blog). Now though, Google have given a massive boost to brands by making site links full size and increasing the number to 12. See below for our own:
These site links only when searching for [brand] or [brand + keyword] but as you can see from the image above companies now dominate the SERPs for brand related search terms, pushing competitors to just above (or even just below) the fold.
The ability to edit which site links are served up is sadly lacking but through Google Webmaster Tools it is possible to ‘demote’ up to 100 links. As Google admit themselves, however, that’s no guarantee those links won’t appear.
What it means for us is this. Web design and site structure now needs to be of a really high quality. Search engine optimisation must be geared towards earning authority and must take socialised results and all other ranking factors into account – if it wasn’t already!
When Google makes a change to search it is usually about making more money. How so in this case then? Well, there has been speculation that by pushing nearly all but one organic result below the fold and the only alternative to the brand result being the PPC ads, those looking for something other than the brand are naturally going to click those ads. That remains to be seen, but you can understand the logic of it.
Either way, for me it’s a good move and I anticipate spending quite a bit more time in Webmaster Tools from now on.
Finally, the rumour mill was turning full speed this week that Google had got into bed with Amazon and was returning Amazon product pages at the top of the SERPs, above even a brand’s own site and replacing Google’s own Shopping Results. The evidence was right there to see:
Courtesy of @SEOSherlock
As it turns out, the ‘problem’ was caused by the Chrome extension ‘Awesome Screenshot’ which was secretly inserting Amazon affiliate links into the SERPs. How Google let a spyware extension into their app store I don’t know, but if you’re seeing something weird in your results in future, try disabling your extensions and see if it still happens.
What could have been a story almost as big as Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility turned out to be nothing more than rogue extension messing with our minds. Still, it had the SEO world jabbering away excitedly for a few days.