Microformats, Rich Text, Google Search Options, & What it All Means
The SEO community is buzzing about Google's Searchology. In case you missed it, Google:
- Announced that they will support microformats and rich snippets in search results
- Announced that they will be rolling out search options
- Announced Google Squared
- Announced some other stuff
So what does this all mean?
Implications of Microformat & Rich Text Integration
This seems to be the most interesting announcement from an SEO perspective, at first blush. It certainly has some implications for local search, restraunts, and people search, and it will likely eventually extend well beyond that. Michael Gray had a great article on optimizing HCards and microformatting information which is something worth reading up on if this will impact you in the near-term.
Implications of Google Search Options
The more interesting announcement, for my money, is that of Google Search Options:
This is indicative of a larger trend. Rand Fishkin blogged recently about the dominance of links in the Google algorithm. It seems clear (to me anyway) that they are looking to diversify that algorithm. Google has recently:
- Launched search wiki
- Changed the way they calculate Quality Score to be more localized
- Launched search options
This is because the link waters have become muddied, and because the way people interact with the Web is far more complex than what they link to.
Twitter's a great example; there are scores of editorial votes for sites, products, and content flying around Twitter.com. Twitter is essentially stealing links from blogs in many cases. But every single link out, even profile links, are nofollowed. An algorithm that was 100 percent link-based and recognized nofollow would be ignoring all of that content and activity.
So, Google has to find a way to integrate more data than just links.
Search options is an interesting way of doing this because I believe that if they can find an optimal means of integrating it in the UI, it could be used quite a bit. We're becoming more demanding as searchers, we're willing to do a bit more work (see the increase in long tail search queries), and the Web is becoming big and diverse enough to accommodate most of our information retrieval thirsts.
The interesting thing here isn't any single announcement (none are really game-changers), but rather the evident thinking and context around the announcements, and I think the move to have the algorithm rely less on links and more on personalization and usage data is by far the furthest reaching and most interesting.
What Can You Do?
The move to more localized, personalized results means that if you want to effectively optimize for search you need to:
- Leverage the Long Tail - Create an effective, predictive model for showing up for long tail queries you didn't know existed.
- Be Prepared to Geo-Target - Be cognizant of who, where, and how you're targeting.
- Start Questioning Your Rank Checker - As databases and PCs start to return different results for different rankings and queries include not only terms but also date ranges, that generic ranking pulled by your automated rank checker diminishes in value.
- Keep Doing a Lot of the Same Stuff - Really, a lot of the same sustainable, tried-and-true best practices hold true. Make your content accessible and noteworthy (even if the note may be a bookmark instead of a link).
As with any Google changes, the marketers who test, measure, react, and do a good job of positioning and explaining their offerings will see the biggest wins.