How has Google changed its search results page?

In 2011, traditional SEO strategies will only get you so far. You need to take advantage of Google’s search result categories to ensure your ranking.

It’s 2011 and Google is still king of the search engines. In fact, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) literally means Google optimization. The goal is to be on Google’s first page of search results, which has 10 slots for non-paid, organic listings. Recent changes include special result categories, in turn reducing the available number of available slots on the first page. You now have to be in the top 3 organic listings in order to ensure first-page exposure.

Some Search Results are the Same

General searches such as “how tall was abraham lincoln” will render 10 standard organic results on Google’s first page. Your position is determined by keywords in your page title, page description, domain name, page content, and by your web page’s authority ranking. Standard SEO tactics work here.

Searches with Video, News or Image Results

Shortly after Google bought YouTube, users started seeing a category of “Video results” within the top 6 search results. News and Image results also appear when applicable. Try searching for “beatles” to see all three results categories on the first page.

Google views video, news, and images as engaging website content, so whether or not you have these on your website will affect your search engine ranking. And, on keyword searches garnering video, news, images (all three), your chances of getting on Google’s first page with a standard organic listing is greatly reduced.

2009 – Prophetic Bruce Clay interview

2011 – Video has changed Search Results Forever: Bruce Clay

Searches with Local Business Results – Google Places

Searches with location keywords, such as “plumbers near madison wi”, may show up to 7 “Google Places” (called “the 7 pack”). The order in which you show up in Google Places is dictated by the business address or service area you select, the number of citations (online directory listings), the number of reviews you have (Google reviews and other review sites such as yelp, superpages, and kudzu), and your overall review rating.

Google Places has become the newest Social Media marketing channel and SEO managers that specialize in it are popping up. This is because Google Places aggregates information from many sources into your page and you can optimize your page with video and images.

On searches with the full 7 Places results, standard listings only have 3 slots on the first page. So if you’re a local business, you have to pay special attention to your Google Places page.

Here’s a great video from Small Buz Online Coach showing how Google Places pulls information from many sources.

Note: This video was posted in 2010 and the actual look of the Google Places listings has changed. Never-the-less, it has some good information.

And here is Google’s official video

Searches with Product Results – Google Merchant Center

Searches with product keywords, such as “vacuum cleaners”, may show “Shopping Results” from Google’s Merchant Center. Like Places, Google’s Merchant Center is a free directory for businesses. You submit your product information to Google with a feed.

Here’s a 60-second tutorial video about setting up your product feed.

I hope I’ve helped in your search for Google Glory. Please note the date of this post, because SEO with Google is a moving target, ever changing. Good luck with your online marketing.

Gloria Wadzinski

About Gloria Wadzinski

Gloria Wadzinski is a multimedia designer specializing in graphic design, website design and video production. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. View Gloria's contact information and portfolio at
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One Response to How has Google changed its search results page?

  1. Gloria says:

    I’m sharing an excellent blog someone sent me about Panda. “If I get to a page about a motorcycle part and I am like, “God, not only is this well written, it’s kind of funny. It’s humorous. It includes some anecdotes. It’s got some history of this part. It has great photos. Man, I don’t care at all about motorcycle parts, and yet, this is just a darn good page. What a great page. If I were interested, I’d be tweeting about this, I’d share it. I’d send it to my uncle who buys motorcycles. I would love this page.” That’s what you have to optimize for. It is a totally different thing than optimizing for did I use the keyword at least three times? Did I put it in the title tag? Is it included in there? Is the rest of the content relevant to the keywords? Panda changes this. Changes it quite a bit.”

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