In a move that will surprise few within the industry Google have announced two new features within the Google search results, first an expanded list of related searches and second the rollout of extended snippets—both of which could affect search behaviour quite significantly.
Firstly, Google have announced the deployment of a ‘new technology’ that better understands concepts and relationships associated with a query. This technology will allow Google to offer a greater number of related searches to users via the search results (found at the bottom/top of certain searches).
For example, if you search for [principles of physics], our algorithms understand that “angular momentum,” “special relativity,” “big bang” and “quantum mechanic” are related terms that could help you find what you need. Here’s an example (click on the images in the post to view them larger):
These improvements are not merely restricted to English-based searches, searches in other languages/countries will also incorporate the new technology moving forward. In total around 37 languages should be affected by the changes.
As well as the extended related search functionality, Google have also announced the rollout of the extended snippets. Extended snippets have been spotted fairly extensively in the past, and it is largely unsurprising that these have now passed the testing phase.
In searches of more than three words, the usual length snippet may not be enough for you to judge the result’s relevance. In these situations, Google will now look at extending the number of lines for the description to allow greater opportunity to see the result in context. This in my opinion will have two main effects
- The description tag becomes ‘less important’. Reading between the lines this would suggest that the snippet is likely to be taken from the body of the page, rather than the site description.
- Site structure and content becomes key. Given that Google is using the main body for retrieving this context—allowing Google to find the content becomes more and more important. Providing the essential signals to Google thus is essential.
The extended snippets do not appear on all results; however, there is certainly a far wider range of searches affected by the new improvements
It will be interesting to see how the new improvements affect search behaviour, particularly with reference to the extended snippets. Given the greater amount of SERP real estate taken up by the extended snippets, and the fact that many of these snippets are returned in context, I would suggest this could significantly affect organic vs paid clickthrough.
What effects do you foresee from these changes?