Google has rolled out a number of changes to their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS), which could have a significant effect on the SEO and PPC communities, in addition to the site owners, whose web real estate features in the results.
Amongst the changes that Google has made, users will notice the omission of the preview function and the addition of a drop down menu alongside the URL, which incorporates the cached version of the site; and some new functionality that promotes the Google+ social network.
Dropping the preview function is significant in several ways. Previously, hovering over a URL in the search results would open up a preview window of the page in question on the right hand side of the screen. This likely contributed to lower bounce rates since search users could gauge whether or not the content of the page was relevant to their needs before visiting the site. In addition to a decent bounce rate, the quality of visiting traffic would have been improved, if visitors had already decided that the page was right for their needs.
Website owners hoping to keep their bounce rates low without the help of the preview screen should ensure that their pages are structured to retain relevant visitors. This means creating a clear call to action and optimising pages to enforce your products and services.
PPC professionals will likely be pleased to see the back of the preview window, since it replaced some valuable paid link real estate when visible. The PPC listings to the right of the SERPS page could be crucial to a PPC campaign, which means competition for this space would not be welcome.
Other alterations include the addition of a new drop-down menu function beside the URL. Here, the search user can access the cached version of the site, but some other functions are also available.
Google has introduced a 'Share' function, in another bid to promote the Google+ social network, and turn search into a collective venture. In addition to the new search function users can hit 'Similar' and they will be redirected to a new set of results, which have been selected as alternatives to the listing in question.