You might have recently noticed something different about Google. Over the last several months, Google has been experimenting with the appearance and redesign of their search engine results pages (SERPs). Although the makeover was subtle to regular users, the changes have online marketers tilting their heads, wondering how greatly these changes might affect the way results are displayed on the search engine.
Like all of us know, Google’s always up to something. Here’s the breakdown of what the new changes implemented by Google, and how it will now affect your business’s visibility on SERPs.
1. Google Ads
When you find yourself on a search engine results page, one of the first things you’ll probably notice is that there aren’t any yellow boxes at the top anymore. That’s because Google has removed the yellow shading from paid search ads and replaced the yellow shading with small boxes labeled “Ad” instead.
Why, Google, Why? Much like other paid ads you’ll see now on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the new look gives ads more subtlety and increases the chance of more clicks, something that will make both Google and advertisers happy. Google simply wants to compete for ad dollars with other competitors.
Here’s What You Can Do: Additionally, this update makes it hard for businesses that aren’t paying Google for search advertising to compete online. Reality check for businesses: you’ll need to set aside a large budget to Google Adwords if you want to see increased traffic to your website. Without a background highlight behind ads, the click through rate of PPC is predicted to increase and will probably drive the cost of product list ads and Adwords up.
Organic Search Results
2. Title Tag Length
With the new SERP redesign, you’ll notice that the titles have a larger font size even though the width of the page hasn’t changed. This means that old title tags that are 70 characters or longer are now being cut off. 70 characters isn’t a rule of thumb to live by anymore. Google now determines how a title tag is displayed based on pixel size. And since pixel size varies with all the different characters (letters, numbers, symbols), it’s impossible to determine a limit to make sure your title isn’t cut off.
Why is Google Doing This? Cutting down titles forces marketers to “get to the point” with their titles; short and simple titles that aren’t cluttered with inessential extra words. This creates a better search experience for the user and helps Google combat spam and keyword stuffing.
Here’s what you can do: Even though there isn’t an exact number you can live by when creating titles, we recommend keeping it under 58 characters, or even lower, if possible. This makes sure your full title appears even if there are paid search ads on the right-hand side. Avoid writing in all caps.
3. Google Schema Redesign
Google announced last week that they had added additional schema support for business information. Google learned early on that users search on Google to find information about a business, including customer service phone number, address, and opening hours. This information is typically found on a website’s “contact us” page.
Google has released some recommendations for webmasters to help them get business info like phone numbers, business locations, and opening hours get better found with search engine results pages. They also launched a new support tool that helps businesses specify preferred phone numbers to Google. Overall, this is a great update for local businesses and businesses with multiple locations.
Here’s What You Can Do: Ask your webmaster to follow these guidelines when creating your “contact us” web page. This will make your business location info more accessible and let Googlebot discover, crawl, and index your location pages. In addition to creating great location pages, Google’s blog mentions that “businesses are encouraged to continue using Places for Business, which is a fast and easy way to update you information across Google services such as Google Maps, Knowledge Graph, and AdWords Campaigns.”