Tips from MozCon: How Google Is Changing Search

Robyn Norgan
Jul 18, 2013

Last year's MozCon, Moz's annual SEO and inbound marketing conference, featured information about Google's Penguin and Panda updates. This year, Moz's Dr. Pete brought up many of Google's more subtle changes to their search. Namely, he talked about how those ten blue links we're all so used to seeing have been changing in many different ways.

I'm sure most people have noticed that sometimes a search features multiple links to one company's website like this:

Google Expanded Company Search Results

If you scroll down on a search with these results, you'll notice that there are no longer ten blue links (or in this case purple links) on the first page. There are actually more than ten links with this new expanded search, but there are only seven ranking positions, so if you used to rank eighth for this search term, you're no longer on the first page of search results. This, as it turns out, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google's search changes.

Planning to travel? Google has you covered with this carousel:

Google Search Things to Do Carousel

And if you thought that clicking on one of the banner options would take you to the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum's website, you'd be wrong:

Google Search Things to Do Carousel Results

Notice how in the first carousel picture, you can only see two actual search results. I did cut the page off a bit for the screen shot, but I only cut off one additional result without having to scroll down on the page. Once you scroll down, there are actually ten results, but that is not always the case as we can see once we click on a banner option. Once I clicked on the EMP Museum, there were only seven results. The other thing to keep in mind is that once I visit EMP's website this way, they have no way of knowing that I originally typed in "things to do in seattle." If I don't show up in the dreaded "not provided" section in Google Analytics, I'll show up as searching for "experience music project," which as we know was not my original search.

This is not the only type of carousel that you will see when searching. Carousel's also pop up for movies, books, albums, sports rosters, restaurants, related searches, and more. In addition, Google now answers questions that many websites used to specialize in. Google will tell you the current time anywhere in the world, it'll tell you when the sun will set and when it will rise, the weather, and how well your stocks are doing. Google will define words for you, convert units, calculate numbers, and even make graphs that you used to rely on your graphic calculator for. If you're sick, Google can tell you more information about your symptoms, health condition, and the drugs you're taking. Need to check your flight status? There is no need to bother visiting the website of your carrier because when you enter your carrier and flight number Google has you covered. Are you a sports fan? Google has everything you need to know about the standings of your favorite team or sport.

Hopefully you get the idea and are now wondering what all this means for you and your website. Basically, the point that Dr. Pete was making is that ranking shouldn't be the goal. I know, I know - ranking brings traffic and traffic brings sales. But what he is saying is that instead of focusing on building your rankings, you should be building your brand. Build a website that will make a name for your brand, that will help you build a following and attract good links that will help you rank; use your website to showcase your expertise so customers keep coming back to you. People like brands they can trust, and, as it turns out, so does Google.

Robyn Norgan EMP Museum Game of Thrones
This post was written by Robyn Norgan, who recommends a visit to the EMP Museum if you're ever in Seattle. It's an interesting mix of music (focusing on, of course, Seattle natives Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix), sci-fi, and pop culture - plus if you visit before July 28 you can sit in the Game of Thrones Iron Throne seen above!