Google's Searchology event was held May 12; as usual, the company rolled out a few interesting new features that you may or may not use and that may or may not impact how you tailor your Web site and content for Google.
To be honest, while the innovations are pretty cool, I'm not getting all fired up just yet and worrying about changing how I do SEO. People search by typing queries in a box. You may do things a bit differently and use cool modifiers or some of the other interesting advanced search functions available -- but you are a search marketer, not a typical searcher. My mom is a typical searcher and she, and those like her, are the reason that Yahoo is the top search term on Google and vice versa. Changing how these people search and changing the mindset around what they expect to get back in the results is not going to happen anytime soon -- but you have to admire Google for trying.
My favorite new feature that I can see actually being useful to me and my clients is Rich Snippets. The example Google used showed star ratings and price range information inserted between the result's title and description. Anything that helps draw a user's eye to your listing is good in my book. Can't crack your way into the top two or three spots? You may soon be able to use Rich Snippets to snag a bit more traffic in that #4 spot.
To start using Rich Snippets, you need to get familiar with microformats and RDFs. There are basically a few standard annotations you can add to your Web pages to define what data can be available for the enhanced snippets. You can read all about it here.
Remember trying to figure out how to target misspellings without looking like you didn't know how to spell your own keywords? Search engines have been trying to work this one out for years. Until now the general solution was "Did you mean..." with a link to a search result for the correct or alternate spelling, and sometimes a totally different word. Google has upped the ante and will now point out your bad spelling and/or sausage-finger typing three different ways. First, you'll see the usual "Did you mean..." link. Next will be the first two results from the "Did you mean..." page, if they're confident enough you really did mean the other spelling. Third, you can even get that "See results for..." halfway down the page when there is a suggestion of a totally different or more complete search phrase.
Google showed a bunch of other stuff, including Google Search Options, which is triggered by clicking "Show options" at the top of the search result on the same line that you see the "Results 1-10 of..." information. Clicking here opens a left side navigation that lets you manipulate your results by timeline, different types of search (video, forums, reviews etc) as well as turning on images in the results and even including more text from the target pages. This is all very cool --but will people actually know to click that tiny text link? Will they even understand what's happening if they do?
Aside from the demonstrations of new features, what I found even more important were the tidbits that the speakers tossed out from time to time. Here are some highlights:
Thanks to Matt Cutts for highlighting those quotes.
So, yeah, lots of cool stuff -- but for today I'm still doing SEO the way I did it yesterday.