Panda Points to Video
Take note: Google‘s latest Panda update seems to favor video content and big brand websites, as reported on Search Engine Watch. Conspiracy theories aside, YouTube‘s place as the biggest winner of the newest update (according to a Searchmetrics analysis) does suggest that video content is of primary importance for retailers (Hulu is also a big winner). Interestingly, Amazon is on the loser list; odd, considering that the site holds the position of number one retailer worldwide. This could be related to the number of non-quality-controlled webstores within the Amazon store (or if you’re a conspiracy theorist, it could have something to do with Amazon being a direct competitor of Google).
Whether or not the results of this update unfairly favor certain sites, the advice coming from all sides to businesses about focusing on video is spot on. A couple of other things are clear, too: Google is heavily favoring big brands AND original content. Small businesses are suffering, but are not technically without recourse (that being video and high-quality unique content).
Or, as one of the commenters on the Search Engine Watch article suggested: “How about two different search engines ‘small business search engine’ and a ‘big brand search engine?'” Google’s attention to its Places function should, in theory, help small businesses out, but it seems very few are feeling a positive influence from that. (Incidentally, my search for “is Google Places helping small businesses” gave me a bunch of promo/ad copy for how small businesses can take advantage of Places.)
If you’re also interested in some of the messy behind-the-scenes tension over Google’s algorithm updating path, check out this (hilarious) video created by Aaron Wall of SEO Book.
Read more (and check out the comments) at searchenginewatch.com.
Eye-Tracking Points to… Video
SEOmoz got a chance to use custom eye-tracking software to investigate Google SERPs; they picked five SERPs about pizza and analyzed the results. There’s certainly a strong correlation with the findings discussed above. One search showed that users favored the “local seven” Google Places results over top organic hits. In a how-to search, users went straight to YouTube video. In a third, users favored top organic hits (they’re not dead yet) as well as Google Shopping product images. Google’s changing SERP structure is certainly pushing its own properties. Is this to the benefit of users, as they claim? I’m not even going to take a stab at answering that.
Check out the heat maps at seomoz.org.