It only takes a quick Google of ‘Coronavirus’ and it is very clear to see some of the changes that have happened on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) in recent weeks.
Whilst the new layout is an easy-to-access data source for any Coronavirus-related news, it is also a sneak preview of what could be coming to SERPs in a more permanent fashion.
Unique New Feature
The SERP Google shows for queries directly related to COVID-19 are displayed in two main ways: raw data & a left-hand menu functionality. Here is a screenshot so you can see what I mean:
There is an incredible amount of data that Google is displaying on the results page shown above. From showing the breakdown of COVID-19 cases in your location, to an overview of case numbers in the UK compared with the rest of the world. I think it really is reconfirming what so many of us marketers have been talking about for some time now – the importance of data.
The left-hand ‘sticky’ menu has categorised the most important information, allowing you to delve deeper into these particular areas.
Personalising Our Experience
The biggest issue when discussing personalisation within search results is how to personalise the experience without user input. Google is not (yet) capable of knowing exactly what a specific user wants in that particular moment. It just shows the most relevant content in the hopes that they are on the right track.
The only way Google can offer true personalisation is by putting the user in control. Letting the user tell Google what they want, and Google responding accordingly. Before this COVID-19 left hand menu was introduced, there was no way of giving the user control over the SERP. What this menu has allowed us to do is filter out exactly the information that we want.
Thinking about this on a larger scale, imagine searching for ‘estate agent’ (not likely in the current climate but it is a good example!), but rather than a list of local estate agents you want financial information. If the sticky menu on the left was present, you would be able to see a SERP related to financial services, conveyancers and much more. It really could bring a new level of user input to the SERP.
A New SERP Is On The Horizon
One thing that has come out of this pandemic is the need for businesses to diversify and adapt to the ‘new normal’. The current Google search engine was designed for a completely different era of digital content, and this snippet of change could pave the way for something much bigger.
It will be very interesting to keep a close eye on changes from Google, as it could mean a very different approach to Search Engine Optimisation too. It is very exciting times though, and I will be keeping you updated on any visible changes.