Google changes its search algorithms around 500 to 600 times within a year. Most of this changes are minor, but sometimes Google makes a "major" algorithmic update such as the famous (Google Penguin and Google Panda) affecting the results in significant ways. For marketers, these changes are important because they explain more about the way websites are ranked and how to improve search engine optimization. More and more people rely on searches to find information as well as make purchasing decisions. From the way SERPs are structured, users opt to rely on the top ten results. This means the higher a website is ranked, the better the chance to gain traffic. Below, we've listed the major changes Google has made to the SERPs.
The Golden Triangle of 2005
In 2005, Google introduced the "Golden Triangle" heat map of the search results. The heat map measured with scale like a rainbow with purple at the least and red parts at the most. This image had much influence on marketing and search engine optimization for years. Marketers were urged to make sure most of the content they created was within the golden triangle both in the search engine results and on their sites too.
In 2005, searches were taking much longer to load, and in most cases taking two seconds for each search listing. Search listings today takes less time in terms of attention but still present a better chance of being noticed. Fortunately today, marketers have markup language to ensure the search listings stands out against the rest. Given that marketers have at least half or less the time to convince users to click, it is therefore a good idea to ensure you are translating website content with all the tricks to generate traffic.
Google Suggest feature
After years of testing, the Google suggest feature was finally being materialized in 2008. This feature allows the user to start typing in the search box and then the related searches automatically appear below the search. For example, when you start typing the word "Olympics" in the Google search box, you get suggestions such Olympics 2016, Olympics national park and Olympics 2020.
Google Real-time results
In 2009, Google launched the real-time search results, which basically meant, the user getting search results as he/she types the keywords on the search box. For example, when you type the word "healthcare" on Google search box, the real-time results will show up before you hit enter. As you add more words to the word "health care", the results of the page automatically flow with the new information to bring the specific results you are looking for. For certain users, it may be annoying, but if you are one of them, you can use the "pause" link from the top of the section to stop real-time results.
Fewer search results
In 2012, Google tested the move away from the usual and traditional 10 search results to display only 7 results per page. This meant that it was easier for one site to dominate the search results. The reason Google executives gave was that they wanted to fulfil the goal of their users to produce the most relevant results for a given query as quickly as possible.
Still in 2012, Google transformed the search results to include not only content but also people and relationships. The new features introduced to the search pages include personal results such as Google+ posts and photos, Profiles and search, people pages.
In overall, the changes Google has made in the search results page are many but also interestingly relevant and helpful to us. In 2016 going ahead, Google is likely to enhance the social results to be more prominent, knowledge graph is likely to gain momentum and the traditional search results listing may decline. With the increasing number of indexed apps for smartphone and tablets users, Google is like to start listing indexed apps.