Google testing filter options on search result pages

Is Google experimenting with Filter options on search result pages?

I was searching around the web for some search results for my company quill.com, and forgot to turn off my user agent when I noticed the left sidebar. It could be an older test since I didn’t even notice my results still had underlined search results.

It’s at the top of the fold and easily viewable by the users. It seems to be focused on search times, view history, and an exact natural search instead of synonym, or semantic search.

It seems like Google is testing another feature on their search results page. Here is a quick definition of each of the filter options that Google has. (The example search keyword I am using is office supplies – which is oh so exciting.)

Anytime
Anytime is what naturally occurs when you search for something.

Ex. When I search for “office supplies” all of the results come up normally.

Past Hour
Past 24 hours
Past week
Past month
Past year

These are relatively self explanatory (results I’ve clicked on the past hour, 24 hours, week etc.) so I won’t waste your time on that. The interesting part to me is that I some of them seemed unfamiliar. Using the gallery below this post, the Past 24 hours search results showed bradsdeals which I don’t remember going to? Maybe I did and don’t remember or maybe that was just a bug in the system. That was all I found interesting from this point.

The rankings seem to match the mysterious Google algorithm, it just filters out links according to the option you chose.

Maybe I should ask if they want me to implement some faceted navigation :D. moving on…

All results
All results is the normal search results that come up, filtered by the option you chose for timetables. Simple enough.

Visited Pages
These are the pages you have previously visited

Not yet visited
These are pages you haven’t clicked through to

Verbatim
Exact search. No semantic search, no synonyms. The results are exactly what you typed in.

Reset tools
Back to the original results we go!

The most interesting filter option on there.

the Not yet visited
This is a little more interesting, especially for ecommerce. I say this because if shoppers come into the through search results and begin to normalize using these filter options.

Shoppers can begin to do greater research and possible find page 2, 3, even up to page 5 rankings.

How does this happen you ask?

Well, I know when I’m shop around online I always price check all competitors, check different reviews, try to find out as much information about product quality, and pricing between several different websites. Since I’ve seen users becoming more accustomed to shopping through navigation I find it interesting if they click this Not yet visited button, it would effectively eliminate any pages they’ve already seen and start bumping up second or third pages to the front of the results.

From that perspective it seems that Google could be on the verge of their own version of filtered navigation. Hm. Interesting.

[print_gllr id=1204]
Here is a gallery of the different results I saw for the keyword “office supplies”
[slideshow gallery_id=”2″]

So in conclusion, Google looks like they are testing some filter options. They seem to give searches the ability to filter by time, visit history, or exact keyword match. The most interesting part of these filter options is if searchers become used to using the Not yet visited option. It gives people the ability to do more in-depth research on a product, it gives lower ranked websites a better chance at converting customers. So let the conversion wars begin.

Google's testing new SERP layout

So there’s been talk about a new interface Google is testing. It focuses on taking away the underline from their search result links and making the titles a little bit bigger. Above is an example of the new Google SERP page interface. (The left is me signed in, the right is incognito mode).

So I finally experienced it and I thought it would be helpful to list some of the changes I see:

changes

The Ad changes. This isn’t a new one but it’s still a difference. before google advertisements had a background a light beige color. Some fun facts – as Google’s ad program began to evolve the background color began to slowly become more translucent and harder to see (also depending on your OS and monitor) However after some legal actions and the law getting involved they were told to make them distinct ad’s. So their solution was more of a loophole in taking away the pretty much branded background color and making it a small “Ad” text with a prominent color. Ha.

No more underlines in Google SERPs. Well then. Cleaner display. I kinda like it. Doesn’t seem to change to much on the SEO front though. We’ll see how long it takes bing to change their fonts.

Bigger font on the title takes the highlight them on both the advertisements and natural search results. This is more interesting. It attracts the eye a little bit more and probably will require a call to action on each search result. We’ll see how this plays out

Less characters showing due to the bigger fonts on title tags. This will be interesting because most SEO’s try ot make the most out of their pages with their optimizedtags. The more interesting part about this though is

a new Google Mobile SERP display with bigger fonts Mobile devices already get the short of the stick on title tags in Google. With bigger fonts, this could descrease the length of the title tags even more than desktop. Leaving little room for a call to action or a long-tail keyword.

How does this affect Ecommerce SEO?

Ecommerce websites are very difficult to scale. So when Google changes their interface to lessen the character counts or change font sizes it could potentially throw a bunch of an SEO’s hard work out the door.

The problem with this is that there is a drop in a couple characters depending on the device you are using. This isn’t too big of a deal – but in rare, long-tail cases, this can kind of affect how your title tag looks.

A solution to this might be to remove call to actions in your title tags or better target your keywords for a little bit shorter tail key phrases. Me though? Keep things the way they are and trust that consumers can understand what our results mean and why they should click through 🙂

Conclusion

This isn’t going to affect SEO much so it doesn’t matter too much there. But it does make the page look much cleaner and more modernized. The biggest affect being the lost of a few characters on both mobile and desktop devices.

I would suggest keeping your current meta tag strategy going for now. Unless Google decides to slowly up their font to size 18 Arial. Then I would probably start using Bing. Oh please don’t let me use Bing.

How The Hummingbird Update Affects Ecommerce SEO

Hummingbird vs Ecommerce SEO

How does this affect your ecommerce website? Well chances are if you haven’t seen any drops in natural search over the past month you should be ok. However there are a few things you should be aware of with the new update Google decided to ninja on us a little over a month ago. We’ll begin with an overview of the general changes I’ve read about and seen.

To me, it seems like the main focus of it was purely for users. Unlike Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird put the focus on the user as opposed to the algorithm. Some examples of this is the focus on conversational searches, kind of like a siri that responds with search results. For example: Here are some results for “conversational searches”

who is miley cyrus?

what does miley cyrus do?

what does miley cyrus sing?

what is a twerk?

A big part of the Hummingbird update was a large focus on the knowledge graph as well, They continue to add in top rails to push the organic feed lower and keep users on the website. For the same conversational searches above, the results are below

who is miley cyrus?

Who is miley cyrus

This shows a mini about section including family members, birthdays, what she’s done, movies she’s been in, related searches.

what does miley cyrus do?

what does miley cyrus do

Her occupations, what she is best known for

what does miley cyrus sing?

what does miley cyrus sing

A scrolling rail that when you click changes the search result to the “Miley Cyrus + [song]” it also keeps you on Google much longer.

what is a twerk?

what is a twerk

It should never be spoken of again.

So what does twerking have to do with my ecommerce site?

Well, with the conversational searches becoming more prominent and people stepping away from short tail keywords, long-tail keywords are becoming more and more important, and that’s where ecommerce sites can thrive. They have sites built for long-tail and through common internal linking strategies, and proper on-page optimization – your website can be built for the future of Google, and step away from the “computers” “laptops” “sports” search queries that are slowly fading away.

Some things to think about

Schema.org. I’ve been vying for this since I’ve joined the company I currently work at. It’s know that microformats and rdfs’ are still very readable by Google, even data-vocabulary has been seen still working. But if there is something you want to be ahead of the game in, it’s schema.

In ecommerce schema implementation can be a huge win. You can increase your click through rate on serp pages by including breadcrumbs, price, reviews, authors – and further tell Google what your pages is about adding item types to organize your content. Implementing can be a large work order for your IS team, so have the code ready for them and take an hour to explain on to implement it.

Mobile. 12% of Google’s search now come from a mobile device, and presumable around 25% in the year 2020. That’s a lot of cheddar. Optimize your website for mobile browsing as a separate experience as a whole, or develop an app and market users towards buying that. B2B Markets have less to worry about, however this is yet another win for the future of internet marketing. Don’t sit around while another Amazon is being built up.

Ecommerce mobile is definitely one of the toughest things to properly implement. Especially if your integrating marketplace. Weighing the priority would be your first bet here. If mobile currently makes up 5% of your total website revenue – it might not be very important, however as I mentioned before being ahead of the game is never a bad investment.

Content. Back to ye’ old content is king quote. With the prominence of long-tail keywords being the central focus – targeting those deeper levels might be the new primary focus for your website. “Laptops” may bring the 100,000+ traffic, but “hp pavilion laptop computer with intel core i3 processor” will convert much more.

Ecommerce content is probably more difficult to scale that ecommerce mobile is to create. Some unique pieces of content to thing about or reviews, features, images, about, description, colors, related items, cross-selling – these are all things that should be able to be dynamically generated as well as internally linked from all levels of your website. Example: Your hp pavilion laptop computer with intel core i3 processor could definitely link to your hp officejet pro multifunction printer. Get creative with your content and utilize of your assets.

Conclusion

So if you work in-house or for an agency on an ecommerce website, some major changes the Hummingbird update presents are conversational changes, knowledge graph designs, and long-tail keyword targeting. Some things you might want to encourage the company to invest in are mobile optimizations, schema.org microformats, as always – content.

Feel free to contact me to talk about ecommerce seo @andrewliwanag, andrewliwanag@gmail.com, and connect with me! linkedin.