A little more than a week ago Google introduced a new design for its search results. The often “quick to dismiss” SEO industry is watching awestruck what will happen. The first pros and cons trickle in from the forums and the blogs.
So is the new Google design actually good or bad for SEO? Both.
Some aspects of the new layout seem to have an adverse effect while others get hailed a new opportunities.
Long Tail suffering
There are reports surfacing that the new Google, be it the Caffeine algorithm change or the new layout, actually hurts big sites with many long tail phrases. Webmasters of sites that rely on thousands of searchers looking for stuff like [green ipad case shop] and other complex search queries cry foul. The long tail traffic is down by 2/3 or more according to these reports.
Social Media rejoicing
On the other hand we have some pundits who really like the new design. Todd Heim actually sees new opportunity in the social media realm looming in the new structure of search results especially as some hitherto hidden aspects now show up as menu items. The addition of real time results, the more prominent position of blog results and the new discussions menu item for results from forums serve as examples.
Lee Odden has pointed out that the semantic “similar” results are quite accurate and useful. This would mean that the searchers have more options. Will they still click the number 1 results like approx. 40 – 50% have done until now? It seems not.
There are lots of different results you can find now and searchers might end up on pages they otherwise wouldn’t find. Today a perfectly optimized page can backfire because you’re just number one and not everywhere in image, video or blog search. You can’t be everywhere of course. At least it takes substantial effort.
You need to tackle SEO even more organically from now on.
You need to make people share your content everywhere, all types of content.
Still I don’t think that many people will use the menu. In the past eye movement tracking experiments and heat maps have shown that users are most likely to ignore additional “Universal” search results like videos and clicking plain text results instead. Many users will probably dislike the changes.
Clutter might be the foremost reason for dismissing the new enhanced Google search. All of the tools and options there are more or less redundant. You can live without them. They are nice to play with but not very useful. Also Google blog and real time results are very messy and rarely relevant. I doubt that most people will find them useful.
So at the end of the day people may as well stick to their habits and click #1 like they always did.
We don’t know yet. People are still getting used to it. Just like we do. After this phase of coming to terms with it the situation might change again. So it’s too early to judge the new search interface. One thing is sure though. The new search results’ design has both positive and negative aspects.
You can also use the old design if you prefer it. You can find it here.