Why Google’s Redesign Could Be Good News for Social Marketers

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It’s all about the real estate.  Google results pages have historically been about simplicity.  Any search “options” have been such a little part of the UI that, let’s be honest, hardly anyone knew they were there.

Before now, Google attempted to predict what users wanted by including universal search (such as news, videos, and images) right in the organic results.  Most recently, social conversations (blog posts, twitter updates, etc.) have made their way into the SERPS.  Today, a clear left navigation gives users quick access to specific vertical search features right from the results pages:

While universal search results had created added opportunities for search marketers to capitalize on SERPs, this latest change favors social marketers.  In addition to video, images, maps, and news search; blogs, Forums (Discussions), and Twitter/Buzz like services (Updates) have been given their respective real estate from Google results pages.  So if you’re not already involved in these as a part of your internet marketing strategy, you’ve just fallen further behind.


While Google blog search is nothing new, this new navigation is sure to generate some increased usage.  If you own, run, or write for a blog, that could mean an increase in traffic from Google.  If you don’t, it’s probably time you started one…

Freshness of content will also be a consideration for users.  While the results are set to sort by “relevance” by default, buttons to sort by date, and/or limit results to the last 10 minutes, hour, day, week, month, and year are easily accessible.  The default results, too, even seem to favor the fresh content and include information on how old the post is within the SERP listing.  What does this mean for you?  Keep blogging…as often as you can.

Updates – Twitter & Google Buzz Search

In December, Google released their “real time search” feature.  Tweets were included within results and a full page of real-time tweets was just a click away.  Last month, Google added a dynamic archive function which gave users the ability look back at specific days & times or track twitter trends across an entire year.  Now, Google has given this search feature a place in their new navigation.

For marketers and content producers, the “Top Links” section of the results is just one more opportunity to spread content by promoting it on Twitter and Google Buzz.  While the potential for consistent traffic may not be as appealing as the blog search section, it’s certainly another good reason to make services like twitter and Google Buzz a part of your social media strategy.  And if nothing else, it makes for a great tool for ORM or tracking and monitoring social campaigns within the twittersphere.

Discussions – Forum Search

Who says forums are dead?  “Discussions” is the final social addition to the new Google navigation and it focuses on forums and answer services like Wiki Answers and Yahoo! Answers.  It’s quite useful to users who may be looking for solutions to questions that others might have already posted online.  Much like Blog search it’s not a completely new service, but again, this change will likely mean increased usage.  So if you own, run, or moderate a forum, this could translate into increased traffic and thus additional activity.

For the rest of social marketers, however, it means allocating more time to participating in industry forums as a part of their social media strategy.  Being active within forums and providing answers to common industry related questions on services like Yahoo! Answers can give an individual or brand extra exposure and more importantly: credibility & authority.

Bad news for SEOs?

The down side to Google’s new navigation could be reduced use of the general results.  With these extra options easily accessible for users to refine their search, Google has essentially marginalized their search algorithm.  The effect could be reduced clicks which could drive traffic down for sites that typically do well in organic results.  But as search & social media continue to blend into small parts of a larger entity; marketing strategies will need to adjust.  And this change by Google is just one more example.

Todd Heim

Todd Heim

Todd Heim is CEO, co-founder, and SEO manager of Essential Internet Marketing, LLC, an SEM and Social Media Marketing company based in Albany, NY.
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  • Peter

    Great post! I've felt for a long time that Google's biggest competitor is social media (not the likes of Bing etc). This is a definite nod in that direction I think.

  • http://seoaware.com Melissa – SEO Aware

    You make some fantastic points and I agree with you, but I am one of those that is sick of the constant change. Facebook always changes…everything changes. Google was my one solid option that just remained steady from a visual perspective. I can't stand the change. I would much prefer the new sidebar be on the right. It just messes things up for me. Not a fan, yet….

  • http://www.christycorrell.com Christy Correll

    I am a big fan of this redesign so far. In my view, anything that is good for usability is good for search. (And no, Google did not pay me to say that.) So far, the only thing that I do not like about this new layout is that its emphasis on freshness of content for blog posts has prompted some bloggers to remove the dates from their posts … and close their comments for the same reason. I think these bloggers should know that if I am searching for a blog post whose content is date-sensitive (commentary on a news event, for example), I am going to pass right over any post that is not date-stamped by the author.

    • http://essentialinternetmarketingllc.com/ Todd Heim


      Good point. I'm not sure how Google handles blog posts without dates, but I'm sure they have ways of tagging the freshness of the content without it. And you're right, I am the same way. Especially since so much info on the web is out-dated. Bloggers need to be less lazy and continue writing instead of finding SEO “tricks” (that probably don't work anyways) and that lead to poor user experience…

    • Dennis

      So if they remove the date, they will not receive any relevancy with regards to a day in time. Where will they end up? Seems like they are shooting themselves in the foot…

  • http://c21mmblog.com Lynn Albro

    I think these new changes are certainly going to help the User, however, as a SEO and Social Media Specialist it seems as though when you start to feel comfortable, change steps in and it is time to 'learn the new' again.

    • http://www.christycorrell.com Christy Correll

      Lynn, I agree with you that these changes are going to help the user. However, one of the things I like most about being an online marketer / SEO is that there is never a dull moment! It is getting harder to keep up with the changes, though, I do admit, so we will see if I feel the same way in 5 or 10 years. 😉

  • http://seo2.0.onreact.com Tad Chef

    Here I see “updates” at the bottom of the menu. Also the updates results are full of crap. Searching for SEO shows the latest spam by nameless bot accounts. The discussions and blogs results will have a bigger impact I guess.

  • http://www.firstfound-blog.co.uk Andy @ FirstFound

    I don't think it's necessarily bad news for SEOs, it just means that we'll have to adapt and embrace these changes. More Social Media integration won't kill the industry. It'll help it grow.

    • http://www.designtorontoweb.ca/ hannah trinity, web designer

      Very well said, let's all take it as a challenge and not a threat, after all the only thing permanent in this world is change.

  • http://twitter.com/dotCOMReport dotCOMreport.com

    Google 's changes are a step in the right direction, and I for one like them immensely!

  • http://www.poonambhatt.com Poonam Bhatt

    Google seem to be responding and listening which always a great sign..

  • http://twitter.com/tserrin Tammy Serrin

    I am a fan, or rather, I “like” it! As we are in constant change, it would only make sense to make changes geared towards the liking of the general public. For the most part, changes are made to make things easier and this is a great thing. The easier it is to use, the more people can tap in and access it. Google's changes may not be the best for SEOs because of a little extra clutter from posts, blogs, responses, etc., however, this means the information they put out should be more meaningful?

  • http://emoneymakingonline.com Mr.Ven

    I could think the same, one disadvantage that people will start loving the latest/recent content and hence our older articles (even though which are in the top of SERP) may get less traffic. The rule, Old is gold – not applicable here !

  • http://www.kitchenerwaterloo-realestate.com kw real estate agent

    The easier it is to use, the more people can tap in and access it. Google's changes may not be the best for SEOs because of a little extra clutter from posts, blogs, responses, etc.one disadvantage that people will start loving the latest/recent content and hence older articles may get less traffic.

    • http://www.buzzdock.com/?utm_source=YontooPR&utm_medium=Direct&utm_term=AG&utm_campaign=Comment Stacy

      But if part of your marketing strategy is maintaining an active and relevant blog – then you should be fine. Don't you think?

  • kellygerards

    About this time last year I picked up my first “Social Media and Video Marketing Client” He kept asking, ” Is this Social Media and Video Marketing stuff really going to work?” On that note I really like the comment about the fact that if you are not in the loop, you better get caught up or get left behind. At any rate, that client has since signed an exclusive contract that goes to 2012…Plenty of case studies on my blog how we use the social media and video marketing to dominate Google and such…great video content.

  • http://twitter.com/alfonsodilieto Alfonso Di Lieto

    Good for social marketers, I think the new “results pages” of Google could be a good news also for the seo because – maybe and I think probably – the websites could be take more traffic “in target” from a more specific query.

    I hope… 🙂

  • http://www.websitedesigncity.com.au Website Design Sydney

    I agree with Andy.

  • http://www.websitedesigncity.com.au Website Design Sydney

    I agree with Andy.

  • http://www.memorybits.co.uk/ usb flash drive

    I agree with you, but I'm one of those people are sick of the constant change. Facebook always … Changes everything changes. Google me a solid choice that remained was just a visual perspective. I can not stand to change. I much prefer the new sidebar on the right would be.