On-page and off-page search engine optimization is usually the topic for discussion amongst SEO experts. However, the most recent development in the search engine world consists of Google displaying full-page previews as part of their search results and therefore is something that will IMPACT your organic traffic.
The Discovery & Benefits
According to Patrick Altoft, Google is currently attempting a beta version of a new search feature which displays a full-page preview of a target website. In general, when the user hovers over the search result for a specific site, that site listing will be highlighted in blue and a full-page site preview is displayed to the right of the search result. Here are some great things that go along with this new feature:
- Better Confidence — When you search, you are looking for a specific keyword (or set of keywords). Yes, you get the general description from the results page, but you don’t know the entire content(s) of the page. This allows you to view the entire page and its contents within that specific page which increases the amount of confidence you have that the target page will answer the questions that you have (or provide the information you require).
- Outline Snippets — Along with the page confidence, you also have the ability to read an enlarged text from a highlighted section of text which include your keyword(s). What is cool is that the text snippet is outlined in orange while the text inside of the outline is slightly enlarged to make readability easier for the browsers.
While there are a few great things that are included with this new Google feature, there is one major problem which could drastically and negatively influence a number of websites.
- Decreased Clickthrough Rates — While the snippet is a great addition for the search engine users, this has the potential for a significant decrease in clickthroughs for your website. If the user is getting all of the information they need within that snippet (or that specific page) there is no reason for them to click on your site to get that information (as they would in a “normal” search result page). Instead, they will simply read through the snippet and move on to the next page to see what that page has to say within their snippet. Overall, this will decrease your organic search ratings if your design is not meant to accommodate this new feature.
What Does This Mean For You
As of 11:00pm on 10/7/2010, this feature is merely a test for Google which is something that they do quite frequently and rarely are caught (unlike this feature test). Test or not, though, it is important for you to act now just in case this feature comes to fruition. Here are some web design tips for you to avoid the problem of a decrease in clickthroughs while maximizing the potential for increased organic traffic.
- Aesthetic and Engaging — Your web design, if it’s not already, needs to be aesthetically pleasing and engaging for your users. If the user sees a full-page preview of your site they should be enticed to click on the link and enjoy the experience. In other words, for the major pages that you are pushing for search engine optimization, make sure you utilize interactive and/or user-engaging features which will immediately catch and consistently maintain a user’s attention.
- Don’t Give It All Away — With this new feature, you need to design your website in terms of “teasers”. No, this is not the best way to go about this for the “content is key” philosophy, but you also don’t want to lose out on clickthroughs from search engine users. So, instead of having the snippet that Google picks out as the only content you have about the topic, include a sub-page which has more detailed information (if at all possible).
With Google implementing a slew of beta tests for release features, I’m not concerned about this feature coming into play in the (too) near future, but I my main concern is to make sure you are aware of the potential changes so that you can act on the search engine news which may have an IMPACT on your business/revenue. Overall, I highly suggest that you take a second look through your website from a user’s perspective and determine if it is optimized for this potential search engine shift. If you need help with this please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us today.
If website design and search engine optimization (SEO) are something that you are interested in but don’t know how to get started, contact us today to schedule your free marketing analysis.
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Image Source: HubSpot, “The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing”, E-Marketer.com