Google Search Result Pages See Critical Changes in June-July

Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) literally saw a revamp in June-July, which can be explained by major shake-ups. Moz has reported on these crucial changes along with supporting statistics. To optimize search results, online marketers need to understand the key changes that affected SERPs. We take a look at these changes and how you should deal with them to succeed in your marketing campaign.

According to the Moz report, SERPs have witnessed four major changes and all of them are beyond traditional, organic results:

  • No Authorship Photos – On June 26, Google announced that it was going to remove authorship photos and circle count from search results as part of improving the visual design of search results. Though the personalized results still shows some authorship photos, the general results no longer show the profile photos. Moz statistics show a total loss of authorship photos on the morning of June 28th. Though this change affected visual impact, author bylines are still seen on search results and the authorship concept is still relevant.
  • Increasing SERP Share for In-depth Articles – As per Moz, in-depth articles popped up in only 3.5% of the searches for the first time they tracked the search results. This rose to roughly 6.0% by the end of June 2014 and to 12.7% by July first week. Moz says the reason for this trend is unclear.
  • Drop in Video Thumbnails – Moz found a small, but significant shake-up in video results after the authorship drop. Around 28% of results tracked were losing video thumbnails. Though it is not clear whether this change implied a removal of thumbnails or a ranking drop for video results, Moz reckons that Google is questioning the value and prevalence of rich snippets in general and notes that mega videos are showing up on generic queries.
  • Decline in Local Pack Results – If you search for a restaurant or a retail store or perform similar searches on Google, a list of local results lettered A through G will appear, which are called local pack (7 pack) results. For example, if you search for ‘Restaurants NYC’, you get a result that looks like this:

    Google Search Result Pages

    Moz found a significant drop in local pack results when Google introduced its new local search algorithm (nicknamed the ‘Pigeon Update’) in July. The latest findings show local pack results fell to 23.4% of their data set. If a notable jump was found in the case of 3 packs, a corresponding decrease was found in 7-packs. However, certain searches that lost packs only lost packs in some regions.

Tips to Deal with these Changes

  • Make sure that the author byline is shown correctly on search results. As long as Google can read the two-way verification (rel=author markup on the content site referring to author’s Google+ profile, and a link back to the content site in the author’s Google+ Contributor To links) correctly, a byline would be shown correctly only if the authorship is connected correctly for the page.
  • Try to present your content in in-depth articles. Create high quality content over 1000 or 2000 words that sounds conversation and not promotional, and is amusing and engaging (for example, reviews, guides). Get help from professional web content writers, if necessary.
  • It is advisable to use video snippets only if your product is visual. Also, ensure that you are using quality video thumbnails.
  • You should optimize your Google Plus Page and Local Pages properly. Try to insert your location into the page title and description of your website. You should also create local business listings on various local directories and review sites (for example, Yelp, Yellowpages) with a consistent name, address and phone number.