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Google ADDING Second Search Term to SERPs
Kevin_H




msg:4508471
 3:14 pm on Oct 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm probably way behind the times in seeing this (or perhaps we do well enough on our search terms for our sites that I've never noticed ;)); but thought I'd mention it.

Before I get to the detail; I have seen similar things to the detail below, but not quite the same thing; such as 'did you mean', 'would you rather search for xxxx instead' etc. (intrigued yet?) OK, onwards and, well hopefully, upwards.

Last Friday I was just doing some rank tracking for some fairly random terms (well, it was late on Friday, what else do you do?) and eventually realised that Google had decided to take the search term I was looking at and had ADDED the results from a 2nd search term (very similar, so sort of see why) to its SERPs for my search term without any mention of it (in the first instance). So, if you had been optimising for the one search term, and you were looking to see where you result ranked, then it may well have been that you came away thinking:

Poot!

Here's an example:
(nb. all searches were in UK on google.co.uk)

I did a search for 'reclaim care home fees solicitors'

Clicked through to page 3 and I saw the following:

"
Including results for claim care home fees solicitors
Search only for reclaim care home fees solicitors
"

So, I wondered, when was Google adding a 2nd search terms' results to the mix?

Now, I thought it could be that Google only added the results at page 3 or greater (a bit like the options I've seen before, but automated); so:
I Noted the number of results returned: 1,600,000

I then redid the search and looked at page 1:
Noted the number of results returned: 1,600,000

The same - so it looks like, for the search term I was looking at, Google have 'added in' results for a different (though closely related) search term STRAIGHT AWAY BUT with no mention of this fact on page 1; and in fact it was only at page 3 did Google think, hmmm maybe I shouldn't have added those extra results and let you do a search without them.

To check I then re-did the search term with the 2nd term excluded and, low and behold, vaslty fewer results returned. SO, yup, looks like I was right.

Now I've only seen this once (or at least noticed it once), on this occasion, but it makes me wonder how often it is happening and I haven't noticed. I appreciate Google has had similar options for adding other results to those originally returned for my search query, or switching to a new search term, but this was the first time I have noticed the results being added WITHOUT any interaction from myself and without letting me know (until page 3).

The impact for me is self evident, when we do our keyword research and do our on-page optimisation, how often are we missing the fact that Google will be adding in results from a 'different search term' that we haven't optimised for and which could push our result much lower?

To take a quick look, I took the instance above and picked a site from about page 8 that seemed to be optimised purely for my original search term and re-did the search with the 2nd result set removed and surprise-surprise, the site I had picked jumped to page 3. A big jump.

So perhaps some of those search terms we just can't seem to get ranking as we would expect, when we compare our sites to those above us, particularly on page 1, aren't where they are because the other sites are 'better optimised' than ours for our search term, but because they are optimised for a completely different search term that we haven't optimised for at all!

Am I behind the times with this? Anyone else seen this? Just wondering.

 

tedster




msg:4508690
 12:37 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

very similar, so sort of see why

This sounds like Google's semantic research at work. If so, I've been seeing it for a while in some situations - even going back a few years. The "added" term is even presented in a bold font, just like the original term you actually typed.

aristotle




msg:4508697
 12:51 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I might have seen a variation of this a few times as well. I've noticed that if I search for "widget", I sometimes see a few mixed-in results that are a more appropriate match for "anti- widget".

lucy24




msg:4508714
 2:02 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

From the other side. When your logs say that a visitor came in via a google search for such-and-such: is that what they themselves typed in, or what google decided they meant?

Sand




msg:4508729
 3:17 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Saw something interesting today too. I searched for a musician. Half the results were about him. The other half were about his bandmates (individually).

tedster




msg:4508752
 5:11 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

is that what they themselves typed in, or what google decided they meant?

It's the actual search terms that were in the box - which might mean your URL was triggered by a Google "what they meant" decision, but if so your URL still did appear on that SERP.

Kevin_H




msg:4508790
 8:04 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

As an update - trying the experiment today and it was only at page 8 that the "including results..." appeared.

@tedster - could be an effect of semantic search at work indeed (but see later in response). And the fact that pages get 'scored' based on sematics, similes, etc, onpage is, I think, pretty much a given now.
The difference for me here is that it isn't a single set of results based on one search term (whether semantic or not) but the concatenation of search results for two terms, that Google is adding together, and that you get offered the option to SPLIT OUT the 2nd set at some point.
Now it may be that it has indeed been there for some time and I have just never seen the option to split out the 2nd set of results, or it may be that it has always been there and Google has only just offered the searcher the option to split out the 2nd set of results, but I'm wondering if some of the 'sudden drops' we have heard about in peoples rankings for highly optimised phrases (but NOT the 2nd phrase) recently may actually be because this 2nd set of results (semantically chosen I grant you) has now been added to result list.

@aristotle - not sure if you mean the same thing. To me, the experience you suggest sound more like the onpage semantics (not quite working as wanted perhaps) that I mention in my reply to @tedster than the addition of a completely different set of results for a different search term (could be wrong). Did you ever get to see the option to 'split out' the 2nd search terms results?

@lucy24 - as @tesder mentioned, for the moment I 'trust' (as much as I trust anything) analytics to be collecting the actual ORGANIC term typed in (Adwords can be a different beast - but completely different topic :) ).

@sand - this sounds exactly like semantic search at work; probably exactly the way it should. Once again, just wonder as you clicked the results pages did you ever come across anything suggestion you could 'remove' a 2nd result set for a separate search term?

Sand




msg:4508868
 1:10 pm on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

just wonder as you clicked the results pages did you ever come across anything suggestion you could 'remove' a 2nd result set for a separate search term?


Negative. There was no language on the page that indicated any searches were being performed beyond the one I entered in the box.

lucy24




msg:4509114
 11:00 pm on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I 'trust' (as much as I trust anything) analytics to be collecting the actual ORGANIC term typed in

Well, I was thinking of raw logs, which also include the search term in the referer. (At least on alternate Tuesdays, and then only if the user hasn't logged in or done any of the other things that can result in a hidden search string.) If they're showing what the user typed, in conjunction with results based on google's interpretation of what the user meant, then it explains the occasional "How can a search for 'foobar' possibly have led anyone to my page about bartending?"

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