Originally, the Google search engine pulled snippets of content from the sites it indexed and used them to describe the sites that showed up in search result pages. Remember those fragmented descriptions in the search results? That’s what i’m talking about.
Then, over the past year, Google started incorporating the meta description from sites in to the descriptions that it showed of various websites in search results pages… though not exclusively.
Now, it appears that almost exclusively, whenever a website is listed in the DMOZ.org directory, the description that the human editors gave the website is now being used in the actual Google search result pages.
Don’t think this is a big deal? Think again. Your ranking in Google is affected, to a large extent, on your click thru rate within the natural listings. In other words… if there are 10 sites that come up on your search for “boston pizza shop,” and the site in 10th place gets more clicks than the pizza shop in 9th place, the 10th place listing is more likely to move up. That’s a crude example, but essentially that’s the idea.
These new site descriptions have the potential to shake up the search result pages because they will change the click thru rate of all of the sites that show up. All of the sudden, your rankings now depend, in part, on the DMOZ editor who reviewed your website 2 years ago. Yikes! (Double Yikes considering it’s possible, in theory, for your competitor to edit your DMOZ description if they’re assigned your listing when you submit it, and they’re unethical). By the way, if a DMOZ editor is reading this… I really like you guys a lot, you’re number 1 in my book. Can you give me a good description please so we get good rankings and tons of traffic?
This, coupled with the other updates that Google is making (that’s a link to Google rep Matt Cutts account of the update), could make for an interesting holiday season.
Google’s updates are not over yet, but many website owners are seeing big shifts in their rankings. Some are being dropped completely. Even MSN.com, one of the most popular websites on the Internet, is given a PageRank score by Google of 2 out of 10.
Google is rolling out their latest updates in pieces. Internet retailers need to watch these changes closely. For some, these changes could be a boon. For others, these changes, so close to the holiday season, could spell disaster.
How to hedge your bets? Spend more time on your pay per click marketing campaign. For those of you small businesses who have staffed up and have added inventory for the holiday season and rely on Google, you really have no choice.
By the way, Matt Cutts, the Google rep mentioned above, has posted an entry on his blog that tells you how to contact Google to report problems.