With their new “Search Plus Your World” feature, Google’s search results are undergoing a transformation that will drastically change the way search results appear to users. The feature is now live on the Google Network, and will be fully rolled out to all users that are logged in to Google and searching in the English language.
What does the “Search Plus Your World” feature do?
The new “Search Plus Your world” combines Public, Personal, Social (Google+ only), and Private search all into one algorithm. Public results are just regular Google searches, while the new Personal feature compiles results based both on your past search behavior and social connections. The feature will also feed in relevant content that his been shared within your circles on Google+.
Here’s an image provided by Google that shows an example of the Personal Results feature. (Note: if you select the globe icon on the right it will hide personal results, and when the person icon is selected, personal results will be turned on.)
The left arrow above points to the section that states there are 50 personal results out of the 419,000 found for the search. Some of these 50 personal results will be blended into the first page of your search results.
Personal Results are compiled from these existing areas:
Regular Web Listings
Regular Web Listings (boosted because of social behavior and social connections)
Public & Private Google+ posts, photos, and Google Picasa Photos
In the image below (again provided by Google) we see more of the results for a search for “Chikoo,” the name of a Google developer’s dog. Chikoo is also the name of a fruit, and before the “Search Plus Your World” feature was implemented nothing related to his dog would have ever shown up in the search results. But with the new feature…
Google has introduced Real-Time traffic data to all Google Analytics users, allowing you to view all traffic on your site as it’s happening in…real time!
Real-Time Analytics allows you to view who is entering and leaving your site, if they are a new or returning visitor, and most importantly what traffic source they are coming from.
Since Real-Time will define the source of a visitor, this is very valuable for marketers and business owners who want to know how well an ad campaign or social media post is performing. They can now gauge the immediate impact of those marketing efforts. For example, if you tweet about a new product on your site, you can immediately see how many site visitors were driven by that particular content. This will allow you to help pinpoint your marketing strategy, by allowing you to find what type of messages are the most effective and what time to post to drive the most traffic to your site.
Make sure you capitalize on this new feature, and use it to maximize your advertising campaigns to their full potential!
Check out some screen shots of the new Real-Time Google Analytics in action below:
Earlier this week Google launched yet another service, Trusted Stores, which is a certification program created to help boost ecommerce spending by increasing customer confidence in online purchases.
The program, which retailers will need to apply for and provide data to Google, allows consumers to see a company’s track record of on-time shipping and reliable customer service. A badge will be given to participating retailers so a consumer can see the grades assigned to them in these categories.
Most interesting is that Google is backing the program with $1,000 in lifetime consumer purchase protection, almost like a credit card extending the manufacturer’s warranty on a purchase.
How the program will evolve, and whether these badges will appear in AdWords or in search results is yet to be determined, but we’ll be watching how the launch and program roll-out impact online retailers, especially in the upcoming holiday season.
As we all know, and often write about, Google is always making changes (aka “making us crazy”). Whether an interface, algorithm, or product change, sometimes these stay at the “test” status and never really have an impact on a business’s SEO efforts, other times we’re not so lucky. Either way, it’s important to watch them for cues from Google that you can use to drive new search marketing tactics.
So let’s look at one of my favorite recent updates in Google house cleaning news.
Google Places Pages: Google recently updated their Places pages, de-cluttering and reprioritizing certain elements. In the process, they hid some information that always seemed important to SEOs and provided tantalizing keyword opportunities. However, no big surprise here, the pages are much more streamlined and user friendly.
The biggest change and takeaway is related to reviews. Google has added big pretty buttons inviting visitors to write reviews of the business (as seen in the screenshot below), and they they are no longer displaying reviews from 3rd sites right on the page (they are instead still linking off to some of those sites, though).
This is Google moving into the social realm (in line with Google+), competing with sites like Yelp, and telling us that customer feedback is important.
So what do you do with this? It’s simple! Just like you (hopefully) already have subtle drivers from existing marketing touchpoints to sites like Yelp where customers can share their experiences with your business, it would be a good idea to more actively ask them to also drop praise on your Google Places page. It is Google, after all, so it’s probably smart to build up your presence there. Start with your Facebook page, where you should have a nice community of your most loyal customers. Post a light message thanking them for all their support, share your Google Places link, and see if they’d like to share their positive feedback there.
In March, Google released their brand new +1 button to their search results. This button is Google’s response to the Facebook “like”, and allows users to publicly +1 search results and ads on the Google network. This button can help you find quality web pages, based off of what people in your Google community are “+1ing “
Take a peek at this quick video provided by Google to learn a little more about the +1 button.
Originally, the +1 button was released to be displayed only on the search engines, but due to multiple requests Google has released a version of the button that can be placed and displayed on individual web pages. This allows webmasters to add the +1 button all pages across their site, and gives the consumer the opportunity to +1 said page if the find the information useful.
What’s the benefit?
The Google +1 button is a great way to help your site stand out amongst multiple other sites in your category or that provide a similar offering as you do. When users traverse the web they will be able to see all the pages people in their Google community have “+1ed” your page on Google search, and the total amount of people that have “+1ed” the individual pages itself. Knowing that one of their friends has liked a page can strongly encourage interaction with your site as apposed to others.
Google has provided an easy code/button generator that allows you to create your own +1 button is various sizes and the 44 available languages, and simply post the short code onto your page.
So things over at Google are getting a little scary, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although it is still technically in testing phase, Google is allowing users to block domains/hosts from appearing in your personal Google search results. They are also allowing users to report bad links and content farm websites through a new Google Chrome extension. The idea behind the extension, called Personal Blocklist is that users can block websites they don’t want to see in their results and Google can then determine bad websites and content farms by looking at the patterns of websites people most often block.
This is the first time that Google has given a searcher the ability to have an impact on search results and the search engine as a whole. Because of this new extension, users can effectively have an impact on page rank since “the extension will also transmit to Google the URL of the web page on which the blocked or unblocked search results are displayed.”
There are currently 116,995 users worldwide and an average of 23,835 weekly downloads. The extension also has a perfect 5 star user rating. At this pace it’s not going to change the Internet, but it’s a very interesting direction and one to keep your eye on. It is also cool because if you use Google Chrome you can now easily block those websites you don’t want to show up in your results. As search gets more personal, this will certainly have an effect on SEO and finding creative ways to get in from of people who can actively manipulate search results.
Google announced last week that they’re—wait for it—yes, rolling out anothernew change to their search results pages. Recognizing the power and popularity of this whole social media phenomenon, they’ve decided to further integrate the social experience. Their desired result is more personalized and trusted search results and happier online searchers. (And world domination, I am sure.)
Let’s say you search for a specific restaurant in Chicago and a friend recently wrote a blog post about the horrible service there—because of your connection to her through other networks, that post would be displayed in the search results. You’ll see her link mixed right in with everything else, along with an annotation below the link that you’re seeing this because Sabrina blogged about it. Google sees this as valuable because you’ve just been given insight about the restaurant from a trusted source. Of course, that Sabrina was always such a stickler for service.
Similarly, if you’re looking for a video that had you laughing so hard you cried, but only really remember the name loosely, and you search for “video with the monkeys and the umbrella,” you may see your friend Bruce’s tweet of the “monkey umbrella video” with the link straight to it. Again, an annotation below that link gives you a head’s up that your trusted friend Bruce tweeted this. This is pretty handy for recalling fun stuff like monkey videos.
Additionally, Google explains that they’ve granted us more control over the connections we allow in our Google profiles. While we could always publicly connect a Google profile with a Blogger account, we can now do so privately. Basically, they’re trying to give us more opportunity to drive this personalization.
So what are our good friends at Google up to this week? It ‘s always something, but this week there has been a convergence of four key online marketing and development trends.
The local, mobile, check in, and collective bargaining movements are starting to merge over at Google. Even though they aren’t always the ones with the first idea, if Google embraces it, you pretty much know it’s going to be big or is at least a hint at where the future is going. So let’s take a look at exactly what’s happening out west in good old Mountain View, California.
Google launched Google Places in April 2010 to help searchers find local business quickly on a map, without having to navigate through pages and pages of search results. Google Place pages allow a business to showcase their products, services, location and highlight important information like hours and contact information. Now users don’t have to go slogging through a phone book or a businesses website to figure out how to contact them. Google made the place pages easy to see in searches and over time they started showing up directly underneath websites.
It’s important to note that Google has been spending a lot of time working on their local listings and encouraging businesses to update their place pages. There are many reasons for this, but it’s easy to see that Google is distancing itself further and further from Bing and Yahoo. The Google business plan is to offering so many intuitive easy to use features that a user can find everything they want in Google. It won’t be long before you will be able to search for a pizza restaurant in your area and have a sample slice through Google…. Just Kidding. But seriously, things are getting crazy.
The Sun-Times reported a drop in Chicago museum attendance from 2009 to 2010. If local art museum attendance drops even more in 2011, perhaps we can blame Google.
Art Project by Google aims to bring the world’s museums to online users. Think Google Street View in a museum.
Users virtually tour museums—including Palace of Versailles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Kampa, and Van Gogh Museum—click on paintings to zoom (within millimeters, in some cases) and see additional details about the artist and piece. Additional video details are available on selected works.
User gripes? Cramped on a laptop. Art Project just isn’t meant for anything with a screen smaller than 15 inches. But if it just isn’t practical to visit Spain to see Coffee Grinder, Cup and Glass on a Table in person, this is your best bet.