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Recap of This Week’s Flurry of Changes in Google Search

May 14th, 2009 | | Search Behavior

My sincere hope for all of you is that not all of this week’s Google search updates went by without notice.  But if that is the case, then you’re in luck!  Several significant things happened this week – nearly all of which stemmed from Google’s Searchology 2009 event.  Searchology is a yearly event put together by Google to announce progress and new features.  In addition to those announcements, Google also pushed a major revamp of Webmaster Tools live, too.

Searchology Updates

  • Search Options
    • Matt Cutts (via Marissa Mayer) referred to this segment of changes as a “toolbelt” to break down your search results.
    • When performing a search on Google.com, you’ll find a link that says “Show Options” which opens up a full list of ways to segment that query’s results.
      • Sort results by type (video, forums, reviews), by time and by view.
    • The different views are pretty cool.
      • Related Searches: Based on your search query, this list shows a hefty list of related searches that can help you find what you’re looking for.
      • Timeline: Interested to find much older results for your search query?  Check out the Timeline.  I did a search on “SEO” and got results all the way back to the 1800′s.  Granted, the results were proper names, but still…
      • Wonder Wheel: I’m a major Ryan Adams fanboy, and this is a running joke for him as confused fans often request that he sing “Wonder Wheel” at concerts (he recorded a cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall – earning him a Grammy nom).  Regardless, I doubled over in laughter when I saw this was the name of Google’s new search tool.  But once I used it, I decided that the name fit!  Once you input a search query, Google provides related searches in a flow chart of sorts around your original query.  You can then click on those related searches, expanding a new wheel of related searches – further narrowing your results.  It’s pretty sweet:

wonderwheel

  • Google Squared
    • This is a feature that isn’t scheduled to go live until later this month, but the basic idea is that Google will build a “square” of data around your search query. In other words, you enter a search query and your results will include the typical relevant web pages, but also stats and corroborating facts from around the interweb.
  • Rich Snippets
    • Much like Yahoo!’s Search Monkey, Google will begin to display additional information as a part of the traditional SERPs page. This data is populated by webmasters through RDFa and microformats (as a part of the code of your web pages).

Google Webmaster Tools

Google has changed the look and feel of GWT, but the primary functionality has remained intact.  One of the more significant changes is that in order to do anything with GWT, you MUST verify first.  You can’t even submit a sitemap without verifying.

There were also changes made to the Top Search Queries report offering up to 100 queries with organic impression and clickthrough data.  Google also states “we’ve substantially improved data quality in this area.”  In lieu of me writing out each and every point – I’ll just let Google do the talking here:

There’s a great discussion going on over at SEOmoz about whether or not these updates will change SEO.  You should definitely check it out.  My opinion is that yes, these updates will change SEO.  But not in a bad way.  Like with any algorithm change or major SERPs change, SEOs will just have to learn how to react accordingly!

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