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How Google's latest algorithm changes affect your website

Google improves its ranking algorithm on an ongoing basis. During the last weeks, Google changed three things on the result pages that are visible to all Google users.

The changes are an improvement for searchers but they might be bad for your website.

1. Google has increased the snippet length. Less visitors for you?

Google now shows an extended snippet for queries that consist of three or more keywords. The idea behind this change is that these multi-word queries are very targeted and complex. The usual short snippet might not contain enough information.

What does this change mean for your website?

The longer snippet contains much more information. As Google tries to provide the user with the most relevant information in the snippet, the snippet might already contain the answer to the user's query. The longer snippets might result in the following:

Fewer users might click through to your website because they get the answer to their question in the search results.


Users might begin to use more multiple-word queries to get more detailed search result snippets.


As the longer snippets need more space, the longer snippets move another result page below the fold and web surfers will see fewer results at first glance. That increases the importance of very high rankings.

It seems that Google ignores the meta description tag for the snippets. That means that you must include a call to action in your web page titles.

2. Google now shows more related searches at the bottom of the results

When you search for a keyword, Google will display related searches at the bottom (and sometimes at the top) of the search results.

For example, if you search for the keyword "principles of physics", Google will suggest "angular momentum," "special relativity," "big bang" and "quantum mechanic" as related terms that could help you find what you need.

What does this change mean for your website?

It's important that you optimize the different pages of your website for different keywords. Do not concentrate on a single keyword but cover a wide range of keywords so that Googly will classify your website as relevant to the complete topic.

The more related keywords and pages can be found on your website, the better.

3. Google now shows local results based on IP addresses

Search Google for the keyword "pizza" and you'll see local results in the middle of the search results. These local results are delivered based on the IP address of the searcher. That means that you will get different results than people in another city.

What does this change mean for your website?

It's now easier to rank for competitive keywords for some local searches. While it's very difficult to get a high ranking for a very competitive keyword such as "lawyer" in the regular results, it's much easier to be listed for that keyword in the local results if you're living in a small town.

You should submit your website to Google Maps so that web surfers can find you in these local searches. You can submit your website to Google Maps with IBP's semi-automatic directory submitter.

If you run a local business, you should include your business name, your category and the name of your city in the title tag of your homepage.

If you want to get on top of Google's search results then your website must have optimized content and good inbound links. If you give Google what it wants then your website will get the best possible rankings.

 


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April 2009 search engine articles