Google has just launched its new search interface and with it major changes to the layout of the worlds most popular search engine. This change is significant when you consider that Google’s success was due in part to its uncluttered, simple interface design. To play around with the winning formula is fraught with danger, but there is no doubt Google has spent an unimaginable number of man hours developing and testing the new interface.
The major change is the inclusion of the side navigation on the left hand side of the screen. This provides quick access to tools designed to provide access to faster and intelligent searching – and to help you find content that is more relevant to you.
You can now refine your search to view by content type including Videos, News, Images and Blogs. Alternatively users can leave it on ‘Everything’ to get the best results overall from their search query.
What does this mean for search rankings and website optimization? Gone are the radio buttons at the top of the screen which allowed you to change results from “The web” to “pages from Australia”. For companies who are primarily optimised for the Australian market, they may see a drop off in traffic as users get used to the new interface and how to go about selecting results for Australia.
On the flip side the new interface provides new opportunities for businesses to leverage video and real time search to generate traffic. Used strategically, Video marketing could provide your business with a significant boost in traffic in areas previously difficult to rank for in highly competitive segments. Similarly, if your company has a blog that is constantly being updated with relevant (and optimised) content, then it too could provide you with additional traffic opportunities from when users select to view “Blogs”.
The main aim of the redesign is to enhance user experience and improve search functionality, making it easier for users to find the different types of content available on the web. Google acknowledges that it does not want to overwhelm users and has designed the left hand navigation as query sensitive, so it will only display the content tools in the left hand navigation relevant to your search.
There is no doubt that the changes will take time for users to adapt to the layout and the new ways of searching, which will have an impact on Search Engine Optimisation. On the flip side, it will open up opportunities to smart companies to use the changes to position themselves within the new search environment.