About a week ago, I noticed a new feature on Google’s mobile search results page. Interestingly, Google now adds the ‘People also search for’ option whenever you revert to the search results page on mobile devices. Whilst pondering on this recent change, I came across this tweet from one of the members of the SEO community
The interesting point from this tweet was that Steve Hammer was suggesting that this new feature could be as a result of pogo-sticking. I wrote a blog on pogo-sticking a while ago.
By way of clarity, pogo-sticking happens when a user clicks on a link to the search results, visits a given website and suddenly reverts to the search results page to click on a different link or result. It is believed that search engines use this to evaluate the relevance of a website for a given query. The final part of this blog will ascertain if this feature is completely aimed at measuring pogo-sticking or a modified version of pogo-sticking.
Early research findings on the new Google mobile search results page:
- It appears after “one-back”: The tweet from Steve Hammer initially cited that the ‘People search for’ feature only appears after a user has visited two sites and reverted back to the results page. Based on my personal research, it appears after “one-back.” This means once you visit a site on a mobile device and return to the search results page, you will automatically see this feature.
- It appears over the Meta description: When a user reverts to the mobile search results page, the recommendation appears right over the Meta description of a given site. It does not necessarily appear in the Meta description of the earlier page visited.
- Varying numbers of search terms recommended: The number of search terms suggested by Google varies as at times 3 were recommended and at other occasions 8 were put forward.
- Does not appear on searches made before the new feature regardless of overlap: I ran a search about two weeks ago before the introduction of the recommender. The website I visited was left open on my browser for two weeks. I recently left the website and went to the mobile search engine results page and the new tool did not appear.
- It may not be a way of detecting pogo-sticking: Pogo-sticking is believed to occur when a user visits a site and quickly returns to the search engine results page. I ran a couple of experiments where I visited a site and remained on the site for 1 minute, 3 minutes, 7 minutes and over 12 hours respectively. On all occasions, the recommender surfaced when I reverted to the mobile search engine results page. As such, one could say pogo-sticking is not the sole reason as to why the feature appears on mobiles. Maybe a modified pogo-sticking could suffice.
Above all, this is a very interesting feature introduced by Google with user satisfaction at the heart. It is quite important that site owners continually strive to produce useful content that will prevent users returning to the mobile search engine results page. The world of search engine optimisation is synonymous with change and this is a welcome development in the drive towards ‘search user optimisation’.