Google Search

Google has announced that (US first) Google Search users can click into details that show how their search-result matched certain search-terms (context), thereby giving a further tantalising glimpse into how specific rankings/search engine results are arrived at.

‘About This Result’ Panel

Google says that clicking the three dots next to most of its search engine results will now take users to the  ‘About This Result’ panel where they can see “useful context” about how Google returned results for the query, and find “helpful tips to get more out of Google Search”.

Google says that useful displaying of context is a way of showing searchers some more information about some of the most important factors used by Google Search to connect results to their queries.

Help With SEO?

Although Google has announced this latest addition to its search results as being something of value from a search engine user’s perspective in terms of relevance to “evaluate whether a result might be the one they’re looking for”, the implication is, of course, that this could possibly be reverse engineered to feed into SEO efforts.

Which Contextual Factors Are Shown?

Google says that the search ‘context’ factors that users can see by visiting the ‘About This Result’ panel include:

  • Matching keywords: Used by Google to determine whether information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as a search. 
  • Related terms: Google looks for terms that its systems suggest that are related to the words in a query.
  • Looking at links: It appears that relevant incoming links are still important as Google decides that pages linking to a page using similar words as the query, is likely to make a page more relevant to a particular search. Google says that this can also be a helpful indicator of whether online content creators seem to regard the page as useful for a particular topic (i.e. the page appears to have authority and be trusted).
  • Local relevance: Google’s systems (algorithms) and a user’s given country and location, plus the language used in a search help to guide the relevance of the content delivered in the search engine results for a user’s area, even if a user does not name their location/area in a query/question that is locally focused, e.g. ‘where is the nearest recycling centre?’.

Google has already stated that factors it considers in establishing a searcher’s location include the user’s device location, a user’s labelled places, the home address (set in the Google Home app for the user’s speaker, Smart Display, or Smart Clock), a user’s Location History, previous activity across Google products, and the IP address of the user’s Internet connection.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Clearly, getting a better understanding of just how Google decides upon its search engine rankings is of value to businesses, suppliers of digital marketing services, and even SEO software suppliers because of how it could feed into the improvement of SEO efforts. Higher rankings tend to translate into more clicks. If Google’s assertion that these new contextual insights are related to relevant choices is correct, then a better understanding of how to create pages that are relevant to specific queries (keywords and questions) could lead to more clicks, a greater likelihood of enquiries (conversions), and even more chance of getting a page in the coveted featured snippets/answer boxes at the top of the search results. For Google, this is also a tantalising new way to engage users, and even help retain them by giving them insights that may appear to be of value, and show Google to acting fairly and taking into account factors that appear to stand up to logical questioning.

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