Google announced their new Search Options features on May 12and the SEO world is already abuzz with speculation. How will this enhanced ability to pare down search results and hone in on specific content change the way search engine optimization works?

The new Search Options were created to address a number of the user challenges and problems Google has identified, such as “what query should I ask?” and “how do you decide which one (result) has the best information for you?”

First, a look at the new toolbar. On the left side of the page, just below the search bar, clicking “Search Options” drops down the new toolbar.

All Results

Users can choose to sort results according to format, specifically by videos, forums or reviews. Each video is listed with a screenshot on the left and a short description on the right. Forums show as simple text descriptions, as do reviews.

Any Time

That this feature is a new release is slightly confusing, as it was a part of Google’s old “Advanced Search” options. The options are: Recent results, Past 24 hours, Past week, or Past year. Interestingly, choosing recent results brings up a list somehow organized both by time posted and relevance; results are not in chronological order.

Standard Results

Standard results filtering allows users to choose whether they would like results displayed with images from the page, or more text. Selecting “Images from the page” results in a list with two graphics from each website displayed on the right of the listing. “More text” simply shows a longer description, where available.

Standard View

This is where the new Google Search Options get interesting. The first option is the “Wonder Wheel,” a graphic tool that acts much like a blog’s keyword cloud. The search term is in the middle of the chart, with arms extending outward listing related terms and topics. The graphic takes up about 50% of the search page, with standard results still shown on the right.

Selecting “Timeline” takes the user to a new results page, with a bar graph heading. The graph illustrates the amount of search results available in each time period; start and end dates can be modified and the graph reset. Clicking on a point in the graph leads to a listing of all of the results for that period. A second graph then appears to compare the amount of content generated on the topic during the same month over a five-year span.

New Search Options Impact on SEO

How will the new Search Options affect search engine optimization? Considering that no one knew exactly how Google’s search algorithm worked in the first place, it’s impossible to say. However, it is safe to draw the following conclusions from the limited information available on the new system:

  • Updating content is about to become even more important, as users are able to filter out content more than a day or a week old.
  • Understanding which keywords and topics are associated with which others could help marketers master the new Wonder Wheel.
  • The system could change again in the coming months, as Google plans to add “more innovative and useful features in the future.” (from their blog post)

Take a few minutes to explore the new features. E-commerce businesses and SEO experts will need to examine their own ranking in a variety of search situations. The timeline and format features seem easy enough to figure out, but it may not even be possible to determine which term could cause a hit on the Wonder Wheel. Successful search engine optimization may require even more trial and error, tweaking and analyzing with the launch of the new Google Search Options.