How Google Search is changing – is your website ready?


Google search has one mission – to help the user find the information they need as quickly and as easily as possible. There is one main reason why users come to a website – they need information. If your website is trying to hide information, then it is not as trustworthy.


What kind of information users need?


There are a lot of websites which on purpose try to hide useful information, so that users can enquire through a form. A website like this is trying to capture as much of the traffic they get as possible to engage them later with their marketing campaigns – email, calling, texting and remarketing. Collecting data of prospects is great and you should try to capture leads, especially if you are in the service business. However, overdoing it might discourage users from enquiring at all.

When you look at your website think form a users’ prospective. You are there not to get a call from a sales rep, not to sign up for an aggressive email campaign. You are looking to get information to decide. When you walk in a store the last thing you need is a sale person trying to pressure you to buy. The same way people walk in a store because they need the product and want to gather information, people come to a website to find out facts which help them decide on a product.


How does Google search make information available?


The biggest change in Google search over the coming months is the move towards “custom search” and “rich text results”. What does that mean? The goal is to make the top of the search results as informative as possible. Users would be able to get the information they need without even going on a website. Google takes out the facts they are looking for in a snippet and displays it on top of the search. For example, you want to see a movie.


When you google the movie you get not just the next times it is shown, but also map of the cinemas, direct link to buy the tickets, a selection of critic reviews and a few video clips. If you Google a “hotel tonight” you get not only a map of hotels with prices per night, but also selection of dates, filters of amenities, number of guests, rating and class. With a few clicks you can book a room. You go to the actual website offering only when you have selected all your preferences, so that you are redirected to the right page.


            What is coming up?


Soon this type of rich text results will take over other sections of life like college education, for example. When searching for a school users can see displayed information like admissions rate, application deadlines, tuition costs and requirements. The results will save students the annoying experience of going to the individual website of the school, trying to find the information they need in meanders of menus and submenus. Doing research becomes easier and more productive.



            Advertising on Google Search and changes


The changes do not only reflect the organic results, but also the paid ones. Google AdWords announced new ad types on the last conference, which aimed particularly travel businesses. Hotels are one of the most affected group. Hotel ads are a new type of ad which incorporates Google search and Google maps. The ads appear across desktop, mobile and tablets.


To start using them you must upload a feed of the hotels which you offer, their availabilities and prices. To submit tis data you can do tis manually, or through an integration with a third-party provider. Google compares the data you have submitted with the one available on your website and if they match you would be able to advertise on hotel listings. You can then organise your properties in hotel groups and bid differently for each of them. To bid you must use a platform called Google Hotel Centre (similar to Google Merchant Centre). There you can bid manually or submit datafeed with bids that would talk to Google’s system, so that your ads are dynamic – changing with the room availability on your website.


What are the pitfalls with the new rich text results?


The direction in which Google is going is towards simplifying and making the first page of the results as useful as possible. Anything which does not help this agenda can go against your traffic. When it comes to the organic results, it is crucial that you follow the instructions and insert important information in rich data snippets and metatags. There are clear explanations on how to do this on Google’s developers support page. In no way you should try to hide important information like prices and reviews from your website. This approach is just making the user experience worse.


When it comes to advertising, ad results are changing too. If you are not in the hotel business, there are also ways you can make your ads more relevant. Few weeks ago, I wrote about Responsive Ads for search which are now available for all advertisers in the UK. These ads are allowing advertisers to test up to 15 headlines simultaneously. Taking full advantage of ad extensions, keyword insertion, countdowns and ad customizers can also help you get more relevant ads. Ads which provide a lot of useful information get better relevance and higher CTR. This improves Quality Scores and helps you appear on top of the results more often.