Google Updates, A Year in Review

By | July 8, 2011

For some companies, hitting the one-billion-per-day visitor mark would be enough to sit back and watch the profits roll in. At Google however there’s one thing you can always count on: constant updates aimed at providing users with the best search results possible.

In 2011, Google experimented with thousands of tests to optimize their search and social media platforms. This year has already seen multiple releases including the Panda algorithm update, a Google +1 button similar to Facebook’s Like button and beta forms of their new social networking platform, Google +. Looking back on Google’s updates in 2011, each one brings a new dimension to the way webpages are ranked and the way users interact with Google in a social setting, going far beyond the traditional search box.

Below are the major updates over the past year including their most recent releases and predictions on how they will affect search engine optimization:

Google Instant. This feature is turned on by default.  It prompts Google to load search results as you type, based on predictions that it’s found the right pages for you using compiled data and further refinement as you type. The result is that you no longer have to wait to see the webpages you’re looking for after completing a full search query. According to Google, this feature saves more than five seconds per search, resulting in enhanced efficiency and relevance. Based on their findings, one might infer that Google Instant will increase conversion due to relevance, and puts extra emphasis on your search rank in both the long-tail and short-tail of search.

Google Search by Image. All of us are used to entering a search term into Google and looking through image results, not the other way around. Now the process works in both directions. Google Image Search will now allow users to take an image –either found online, or from their computers – drag it onto the Google search bar, and see results based on the picture.

The new Google Image Search will be particularly useful for searchers who are unsure of what they’re looking at, or searchers who want to buy a product they don’t know the name of. It may even be used to track copyright infringement. Online retailers should take care to ensure that they have plenty of images on their sites, and that those pictures are search engine optimized with proper titles and keywords. Otherwise, they could miss shoppers who are taking advantage of Google’s new search feature.

Google Voice Search. This feature was originally launched for Google mobile where typing may be problematic. It’s now available for desktop machines and might be useful when searching with full hands, or when the searcher knows what he or she is looking for but doesn’t know the correct spelling. It also might help with accessibility for blind people or those with limited motor functionality. Voice Search is google’s solution: a speech recognition tool to convert speech to text andget results.

Imagine using voice search to look for help while cooking, find translations for particular words, or search breaking news. Since people often type differently than they talk, the introduction of Google Voice is a great time to experiment with different keywords and phrasings, since users might use colloquialisms to express the same meanings they would have formerly used keyboards for.

These new Google updates show just how imperative it is to stay current with new trends and gives your company the opportunity to be ahead of the pack.