Earlier this week, Google rocked the search world with the announcement of its new update referred to as 'Orion'. (Derived from the 2006 acquisition from Orion, a big fan of LSI.) This ground breaking development is intended to "help guide users more effectively to the information they need". Groundbreaking? Yeah, right. Not quite.
The whole thing was pretty unimpressive really. I mean, for all of money, patents, and brains behind it, I was expecting something a little...well, more.
I'm sure this is coming, and when the next big thing does happen, I'm sure it will claim the sanity of many an SEO professional. (This industry needs the insanity to keep it interesting, don't you think?) In the mean time, we've got an improvement in search results.
Basically, if you search for a main keyword, you'll get results based on a net of associated terms. So for 'star', you'll get results that include different types of stars, how they form, pictures, videos, etc. as well as celebrities and much more. Honestly, not really a whole lot different than we've always gotten. It will just be a little more obvious to the everyday user.
So, what does this mean for your site and content? Well, if you've been doing your homework when it comes to creating your content, not a whole lot. Those with poor content, however, are sure to take a hit.
Sites with good content might find that they fall in some areas, but they should see their site showing up for different terms. This should hold traffic fairly steady. It could also increase the number of click throughs and possibly conversion, depending on the situation.
Keep your content on topic and informative. This will help your site out significantly. In other words, just write decent content!
Do your keyword research! Don't just stick with the main keywords; look for secondary keywords that go with that term. If you choose wisely, you are sure to reap the benefits.
If you really want to get some decent return on the SERPs, then pay attention to the second little tidbit included in 'Orion'.
Longer Description Snippets
This is definitely the bigger of the two, and it brings up some good and bad points you'll want to think about.
Essentially what this means is that when a searcher types in a long tail query of three words or more, it will include a few additional lines of text.
Why is this good?
The idea is that searchers can get a good look at what your content contains. I like this. If it's going to hook readers into clicking through, by all means.
Be aware however, that this isn't necessarily your meta description. In many cases, it is pulling short segments from various portions of the text.
There has been some concern that this will pull out too much content from the site, and essentially eliminate the need to click through to the site. (For example, if you have 60 words on a page, it will use all 60.)
Well, if 60 words are all you have, then you might want to rethink your content. Also, I have a theory: the description seems to be determined by the amount of text found on the page. Therefore, less content on the page makes for a shorter description. (While I have no conclusive evidence, Google seems to be topping out it's long descriptions at approximately 269 characters including ellipses.)
At the same time, I wouldn't ignore your meta descriptions. They need to be carefully crafted and optimized to get that click through. You might also want to consider that Google draws from the body when the description is insufficient. Should we be making them longer? Honestly, I think so, but I would like to test that theory out before saying anything for certain.
Online readers skim; they don't 'read'. This means they may go through the results as quickly as they do posts or anything else. Are they going to look for the result that contains the most highlighted results? Or, will they actually read through to find the content matches what they are looking for? In reality, I think it will be a bit of both, which brings us to the second problem.
How will Google ensure the content's topic and scope are adequately represented? For example, say in the middle of this post, I talk for a paragraph about the "earth's rotation axis tilt and distance from sun" (just to stick with Google's example). Will Google essentially pull that from the content? Will it be the only thing taken? Comments and track backs are also showing up posing a potential problem for site/blog owners.
What about multiple topics? How will Google generate a description that accurately explores what is on a particular page?
The way around it?
If you haven't been using long tail in your content, you might want to start. Focus your articles and posts, write tightly, and choose your format wisely!
There are other questions, of course. If searchers do take time to actually look at the descriptions, this keeps them on Google longer and conveniently next to their ads. Also, at what point will searchers get all of the information they need in the description and no longer need to click through? These will certainly become more prominent as Google continues along this path.
All in all, I think Google did has taken a small step in the right direction, but web site owners who are not paying attention and changing with the SEs are going to get left behind. Quickly.
What do you think about this new update? Good, bad, or ugly?Do you think these concerns are valid? What are the solutions?
Angie Haggstrom is the Senior Copywriter and Consultant at Angie's Copywriting Services, specializing in online and offline content including SEO web copy, brochures, and more. A Twitter and blogging fanatic, you'll find she chats about SEO, Social Media, business, marketing, and just about anything else she finds interesting along the way.