The SERPs (search engine results pages) for Google are always changing. Whether it’s the amount of links on the page, the style in which they’re displayed, changes to the labelling of ads, or any additional information such as Knowledge Graphs, SERPs don’t tend to look the same for very long.
Not too long ago, Google started testing out a particular style of results page, one which really was different to what we’re all used to.
If you run a quick Google search now, you’re not likely to see it, though it has been often reported over the course of the past few months, with Google chopping and changing SERPs with a new card-like style. The cards and the overall design are fairly far removed from the classic 10 blue links we’ve grown accustomed used to seeing over the years.
So, what is there to know about Google’s test cards within SERPs? Here’s a quick look at a few areas that are worth noting.
Moving Towards Mobile?
One thing that has been made clear over the past few years has been Google’s prioritisation of mobile search, and the importance of mobile performance. As well as their announcement of mobile first indexing, they’ve generally been moving towards a more universal style of SERP, which translates across both mobile and desktop.
As brought up by Dr. Pete of Moz, this may well be another step in ensuring that SERP performance is similar across all devices, with them seamlessly blending together.
Not too long ago, ads were removed from the right-hand column of SERPs – this may have been the first step in achieving this sort of cross-platform uni-SERP, with as much content as possible being crammed over into the left-hand column, which is the case for mobile searches.
(Image Credit: Search Engine Watch)
Test card SERPs over the past few months have had reports of knowledge graphs being removed entirely, or at least moved over to the left-hand side in a collapsable fashion, similar to how they’d be displayed in a single column mobile search.
Value of Being #1
Now, this isn’t saying that with the new design there’s no value in ranking first in the traditional sense, but this design could further impact the traditional top ranking URL in the classic blue links.
With the introduction of this test design, everything is being moved into the single left-hand column, including Google Shopping links, knowledge graphs, and ads.
(Image Credit: Venture Stream)
The Google Shopping section has been moved over to the left-hand side, and there is a selection of ads underneath them, with it becoming notoriously harder and harder to distinguish between ads and regular listings.
Regarding schema and knowledge graphs, here’s an example of the knowledge graph being moved to within the left-hand column:
(Image Credit: Krzysztof Deszcz)
With that in mind, the focus may have to be on achieving top billing in local packs, using proper markup in order to achieve knowledge graphs, getting your products within shopping packs, etcetera, with the focus not necessarily being on claiming the first blue link.
The SERPs for keywords you’re targeting should be studied further, with keyword targeting going beyond simply what you think would be good, and moreso looking at what customers are looking at when they search for that term.
Another point to make about the new card-style design is that it is reminiscent of another Google product: Google Now. This is an assistant devised by Google, which provides information through a selection of cards.
As also mentioned by Dr. Pete, this could be somewhat of an indicator as to where SERPs may lead at some point.
Google Now provides more of a mixture of results, as opposed to the classic ten blue links, providing knowledge graph-style results through a series of cards.
This could signify a look towards where Google wants to go with regards to SERPs. Cards are very flexible, which could mean a real shake-up in terms of how SERPs will be designed, with there being an eye towards personalisation and voice search.
Evolution of Search
It’s crazy to think of the implications that a quick design change for SERPs could have on many businesses – but it’s a real possibility. If Google persists with these changes, morphing everything into a single column while moving things such as knowledge graphs and shopping links to the top of that column, priorities may have to rethought.
As a business, it’s important to keep on top of changes like this, considering the possible effects. As mentioned, this could shake up certain SERPs in particular, such as local business searches and commerce-related SERPs, considering the confluence of the traditional 10 blue links and shopping links/ads.
For the mean time, focuses shouldn’t really change drastically. That being said, a focus on incorporating strong schema would be recommended. Though not directly related, ensuring that your site runs quickly and efficiently on mobile devices would also be recommended, with the apparent focus on it from Google.
- Google are making changes to the style of search engine results pages, with experiments being done which involve the use of cards within these pages
- Things are moving to a single-column design, which means that areas such as ad listings, Google Shopping columns, and knowledge graphs being moved there.
- This could indicate a move towards a universal SERP style across all devices, seeing as mobile devices serve a single column – Google Now also seems like an influence.
- This is likely to have an effect on the importance of ranking first for a search term, due to it potentially being further down the page.
- Businesses should keep on top of changes like this, as strategies may have to be rethought – areas such as proper schema implementation and local optimisation may be essential.
If Google does completely move to this single-column, mobile-style SERP – what effects do you think it will have? With the changes in placement of several key areas of a traditional SERP, will you rethink your overall strategy for ranking? Let us know in the comments.
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