Woah, web search just got a whole lot more complicated. For website owners, that is. Google has wheeled out a whole new bunch of features in its search results, and I’m sure some of them will prove useful enough to eventually become mainstream. If you do a Google search such as this then click the “show options” link and you’ll see a number of new ways of exploring the data. A few have been knocking around for a while, but the new link should make them get a lot more use. Have a play now.
I’m much more interested, however, in the introduction of “Rich Snippets”, and this is where things start to get a bit technical. What Google is saying is that if you have certain information on your page, and you “explain” this to search engines by tagging it with certain code behind the scenes, then that information might be made available in the search engine results. Don’t panic – it’s not of much interest to us in business-to-business websites yet, but it will be eventually.
The initial example given is that if you have a review site, and give something a star rating, then if you present that rating to Google appropriately, the rating might get shown in your Google result, alongside the normal “snippet” under the title. If you’re wondering why website owners might want that to happen (after all, doesn’t it negate the need to go to the site?), it turns out that this sort of thing increases clickthrough rate dramatically. How is this going to be relevant to us? Well, there are already specifications for “microformatting” business and product information, and it’s easy to see how websites which offer up information tagged appropriately might get an advantage in Google results.
I fully expect that this sort of knowledge will be expected from website development consultants in the future, so of course I’ll be mugging up on it all, so you don’t have to. We geeks will inherit the web, you know.