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Will Google’s New Search Options Affect Your SEO?

In case you haven’t noticed, Google recently unveiled a new design for its search results pages that gives users access to some new, interesting search options. The new design may not be immediately noticeable, but when you do a search from Google’s home page, you can now see a new, left-hand column on each results page.At the top of the column are the different Google search “engines” (like images, videos, news, etc.). The next section in the column has a link called “Show search tools”, which expands to display a variety of new Google tools for people to use when looking for information.The new search tools let users view results by criteria such as “time” (latest results, past 24 hours, etc.), “location” (nearby results), “related searches”, “sites with images”, etc., which may ultimately have a significant affect on your business’ search engine strategy. Why? Because with each new option a user selects, a different set of Google search results is displayed, based on the option that is selected.So now that there are multiple new Google search options, does this mean that businesses must consider which Google search option(s) they wish to rank for, then optimize specifically for that option? Maybe.The Importance of Real-Time SearchReal-time search was added to Google only a few months ago, and is the result of social sites like Facebook and Twitter becoming a major resource for users who wanted information that is minutes-old, not days, weeks, or months-old. Now that real-time search is even more accessible to users via the left-column options (e.g., blogs, news, discussions, “time” tools, etc.), social search has become even more important for businesses striving to rank well in Google.Social search is all about visibility, meaning you need to have a presence on the social networking sites and get people talking about and / or sharing your content. You need to get people involved with you in order to be relevant in real-time search, and real-time search has already been shown to be a real-big factor in getting to the top of Google rankings.Where Do You Want to Rank Today?If you want to increase quality traffic from Google, it makes sense to optimize your pages for coverage in the search option categories that matter most to your business. For instance, if you operate a storefront in your town, you may want to show up in the local search (and “nearby”) results. Or, if you’re offering a time-sensitive discount or have tied a promotion to an event, then you may want to be included in the “time” results for past 24 hours or past week.Know Your Audience!The key to ranking well in Google – regardless of the search option category being used – is to find the right keyword phrases to use in optimizing your site. Do some actual research, don’t just guess! If you don’t know how to research and find relevant keywords, then hire a professional to help you. You must know what people are actually typing into that search box, or your efforts will do little to drive targeted traffic to your site or deliver new customers and leads. The more you know about the keywords your target market uses to find products and services like yours, the more you will know exactly where you need to focus your efforts in Google.Hurry Up and WaitAlthough Google’s new search tools are a fairly new development, experts are already weighing in with their opinions on how (or if) these new search options will have an impact on a business’ SEO strategy. The early consensus seems to be that yes, the new options will have an effect to some degree, but it’s probably too soon to know to what extent.In the meantime, the best strategy is to keep your site updated with fresh, relevant content, create a strong presence on the social networking sites, build new inbound links, select targeted keyword phrases, and optimize your site using standard, white-hat practices that will help your web site be read and indexed by the search engine spiders. Then sit back and watch the results unfold over the next several months to see if the new Google search options indeed affect your SEO.