As COVID-19 epidemic could forever change the SERP Google

Adapted Article Mordy Oberstein (Mordy Oberstein), Director of Marketing RankRanger.

What began as a simple panel alert COVID-19, has become the most useful collection of information that we have ever seen in Google search results.

The SERP, that we see when they search for related coronavirus, it is not only easy access to important sources of information, but also the opportunity to look at what could become the Google search issue in the future.

The uniqueness of the SERP, related COVID-19

The design of the SERP, Google shows that many requests related to COVID-19 (from general information to treatments), is unique in two ways:

  • The number provided by "raw" data. Google displays the information on the cases COVID-19 disease in a particular region and the world at large, and other information. This interface shows how much Google can promote certain content and willing to answer questions if he wants to. This is shocking, and at the same time a little scary.
  • The functionality of the left menu. While the panel on the right contains the "knowledge" panel on the left is the new functionality. Here, Google is offering us strapped menu that enables a deeper dive into the various aspects of the pandemic. When you select an item in the menu displayed corresponding SERP, allowing to investigate a particular aspect COVID-19.

Although we could talk a long time about the consequences of ready-made answers in the search results, our attention was drawn to the left panel, because it solves some of the biggest challenges faced by Google.

As a new feature solves the biggest problem Google

Personalization - is a complex issue. When targeting a particular user have a lot to balance. This is as true for marketers as well and Google.

A striking example of this is the contradiction with which Google has faced, when the personalization of search results has led to the emergence of such a thing as a " filter bubble ".

November 2020 is not far off, and it can be expected that as we approach the elections in the United States we are increasingly going to hear accusations of "bias» Google search results.

At the same time personalization puts Google on a collision path with the other important goal for him - providing a variety of search results.

Giperpersonalizatsiya and strong diversification clearly contradict each other. At the same time they are simply not possible. The SERP is not enough for this place. You can not provide a sufficient degree of diversity, showing the user only 10 results. This is unrealistic.

How can Google can solve the problem? With the help of the functionality that we see to the left of search results for queries related to COVID-19.

Let's see how the new SERP solves the problems that we have mentioned above.

Personalizing the problem is solved through the user input

The biggest problem when discussing the personalization of search results is not a filter bubble and not a contradiction between personalization and diversity. Rather, it is the very personification. The maximum customization sought by the Google, is impossible without user input.

No matter how clever Google gets and how well he copes with personalization. Google will never be able to find out what really excites the user at the moment. Partly for that reason he can not refuse from a variety of search results, even with extended personalization.

The only way for Google to provide the desired level of personalization - is to give users control over search results. So that they can inform the Google, what they want, and it could offer it to them.

How to give the user control over the SERP? At the moment, this feature provides a menu with the filters on the left of the search results.

Let's say a user performs a search for [estate planning]. This request may involve a variety of information: financial, tax, legal. What exactly needs to be a user?

In this case, Google can look at the history of queries and find out, for example, that the user is interested in a lawyer.

Let's say that despite previous requests, the user actually need financial information. In this case, local issuing unit, it receives the search results is entirely irrelevant request.

As a result, the user can view the results in order to choose what he wants, or modify the query, if there are none.

Now let's imagine that we have a SERP with fixed menu on the left side of the page, which allows you to view search results related to financial services, legal services, etc. Focusing on the user input, Google may offer the full set of results that closely matches the intent of the search.

Let's take it to another step. Not every user has only one intention. Was it effective would be if Google allowed users to switch between different items on the menu, so that they can open a tab for the results that correspond to different intentions, without the need to enter multiple search queries?

In this case, if the user will be interested in the services of a lawyer, he will be able to find relevant information without having to type a new query.

Menu is fixed, Google implemented for queries on COVID-19 creates a new level of user input in the SERP. And this is a huge step forward.

Dilemmas decision "personalization vs diversity" through a better use of space SERP

At this stage, you can see how the presence of Assigned menu nullifies the conflict between personalization and variety of search results.

In principle, this contradiction is a problem mainly because of the location. You can not satisfy both requirements within the limited space that offers the user a SERP.

Functionality menu on the left allows you to break up a query into multiple queries, taking into account various possible intentions. This gives Google the ability to provide personalized SERP, without sacrificing the diversity of search results.

Thus strapped menu will allow Google to implement the thematic segmentation on the basis of intentions.

For example, if a user searches for car insurance, the sidebar can include a tab where you can compare different insurance options; tab, where you can see the reviews of the insurance companies; etc. If the user is not interested in collecting information, then he can go to the tab "Purchase insurance", which will be presented to all the sites where you can purchase a policy.

Sidebar destroys the filter bubble

Enshrined sidebar also allows Google to avoid being accused of forming a bubble filter when the personalization of search results. Thanks to tabs, users can access different content.

This works even in such problematic issues as a political bias. Even if the user's search history indicates its obvious interest to a particular political party, the Google will be able to avoid charges by providing alternative points of view through the side menu.

It is a simple solution that not only enables Google to offer a balanced view on sensitive topics, but also enhances the user experience.

So much for the objectivity of search results, which enhances the user journey (user journey) - two birds with one stone!

On the threshold - a multifaceted issue of search

That the SERP, which we are seeing now, is outdated in many respects. This design was developed for a different era of digital content consumption.

Because Google is getting better understand what is happening and adapt to these changes, he will need creative solutions to solve some serious problems.

Of course, we can not predict the future. But it is hard to imagine that Google has developed a new format for SERP and not thinking about the advantages that we have considered above.

Will this format, which Google currently uses to query on COVID-19, or something else - change is inevitable.

Source: Search Engine Land