Google’s SERP (search engine results page) has undergone many changes in 2012 that has made the search engine more user-friendly, provide higher quality results and has begun to eliminate web pages have not adhered to Webmaster Guidelines.  Some of the most important changes include:

  • Menu bar moves to the top of the page

While moving the menu to the top of the page (from the top left corner) doesn’t change rankings or enhance results, it shows that Google is still willing to experiment with their layout.  This change has been implemented across the board on Smartphone and Tablets.

  • Google launches Knowledge Graph

The knowledge graph displays answers from third-party sources such as Wikipedia and Weather networks and displays them in the search results, without users having to click-through to pages.  This move has been described as the next level of search. It is changing the search engine from a portal to information to the knowledge people are looking for.

We wonder if this will translate into more searchers clicking through to websites when they are looking for services, as oppose to finding answers!

  • Enhanced Search Results

Search results are now including pictures, social and traditional results together.  There has been a mixed response.  Unless a user performs a search incognito, Facebook and other social network results can be listed.  Also, Google+ results were coming up extremely high, although this has been toned down slightly in recent months.

Author rank was also implemented as part of enhanced search results.  This feature helps authors of content to establish authority in their field.  However, this feature is still being underused. Other features such as Zagat ratings from Google+ accounts are adding real estate to Search Engine Results which have shown a benefit in click-through-rates for some websites and businesses.

  • Algorithm Updates

The algorithm updates have created a stir in 2012 as Penguin, Panda and Exact Match Domain have caused websites to either rapidly fall or climb in rankings.  However, these changes have had positive effects on the relevance of results in search engines. As long as webmasters follow the rules, these algorithm changes will work in the site’s favor and rank it above websites that resort to spam and content farming.

Every year in Internet Marketing changes the face of how we search and rank. We are excited to see how the industry will evolve in 2013.