Visit Google today.
You’ll find a handy left bar giving you more options to refine your search.
This has been in the works for almost a year. Since web designers optimize sites for search engines (SEO) we have been wondering what they were up to. This puts the results more in the hands of the user. If I know what I want I can tell Google how to refine my searches, without my changing my keyword search.
This can be a good thing for businesses. Google is now pulling from “everything” – social networking, paid, organic, images, Google Maps, videos (which can be a small slide show) from YouTube (and beyond) and discussion groups, etc..
What is helpful to “real time” searches is this handy way of NOT having to page through 10 pages of results to find what you want, or worse: give up before they find you. You can drill past the paid ads. (Though they continue to be prominent on Google.) That is the help to the organic websites (non-paying). You know who is searching for you, and while they might not get the exact keyword, this allows them to search within the search results without having to view 10 pages of results, which is tiresome.
It does mean social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) is more important to drive your website. Being on Google Maps is now more helpful – you’ll notice the “nearby” button – which will allow you to find more businesses in the location you are searching. Business owners: it puts you closer to your competitors. NOT pages behind them.
This change can be good news if you are driving your website.