Search for “hammer” on Google. What do you see?
From the top:
- 5 images of hammers
- Hammer Museum at UCLA
- The Wikipedia entry for “Hammer”
Now, observe the following:
- With the old Google, Wikipedia would probably have been the No. 1 ranked site for this key phrase
- Images rarely appear at the top of search results; I usually see them in the middle or at the bottom
- None of the top 3 positions have anything to do with the tool
I think this is pretty amazing.
Google rolled out Caffeine, its revolutionary new database, just a couple of weeks ago. Google claims to index more sites a lot quicker now, but that may not be a good thing for many website owners. Quicker, yes, but more competition, no. That means it will be more difficult to rank for your keywords.
It also means you may not rank at all. The fact is that if you are not in the top 3 search results for a given term then you really don’t exist. You might get some trickle down traffic, but more than 90% of the traffic is going to go to the top 3 ranking positions for any search term.
But what about “hammer”? Not everyone who searches for “hammer” will be looking for “hammer nutrition”, nor will they be looking for “hammer bowling”. In fact, they may not be looking for either one of those and if the searcher is looking for information on the tool, well, Wikipedia just might win.
This is to illustrate the new nature of the ranking wars. Google is no longer concerned with trying to guess searcher intent. Instead, Google wants to deliver a few different type of results all at once and let you (the searcher) take it from there.
If you look on the left sidebar of the search results page you’ll see quite a menu of other options. I can search for videos, images, news, books, blogs, etc. I can also narrow results by time. And Google even gives me the option to search for other kinds of tools (mallet, wrench, screwdriver, etc.).
I think what we’re seeing here is a move to give more power to a more sophisticated type of searcher. It will mean that webmasters trying to rank for certain keywords will have a harder time. Their work will be cut out for them.
What do you think Google is up to with this new evolution in search?