Embrace Change: A Brief Synopsis of Google SERP Changes

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

~Winston Churchill

Embrace change.

I’ve had a lot of meetings with clients and potential clients talking about content marketing and other services that need to be involved and developed in a campaign. Obviously, we’ve already talked a great deal about content marketing in our blog. So what I’d like to do is, one - give you a teaser, and two - give you a brief synopsis of the changes that greatly affect this here industry we call Internet Marketing/Inbound Marketing/Digital Marketing.

When I was brought into ProspectMX to shake things up back in June, Google was in the middle of some of the biggest changes to it’s algorithm since the Penguin update on April 24, 2012. That update affected reportedly, 3.1% of English queries. PMX had to adjust the way marketing was done for their clients then and today, we’re talking about more changes; big changes. But, these changes are almost harder to talk about. Their metrics aren’t as easy to measure quantitatively as before, like the good ol’ “You rank #1 for hairbrush!” metric. I’ll dive more into key metrics for marketing agencies in an upcoming post. (That was the teaser!)

Rankings are no longer a major KPI of success for your company. They are a part of a much bigger picture. For example, one of my colleagues doesn’t really care much for #1 spots for vanity keywords anymore and he’s in Internet Marketing! He doesn’t check his rankings everyday. He doesn’t get bummed about lost rankings anymore, because he’s seen how they’ve gone - and so have I. I’ve seen clients hold #1 rankings for high traffic keywords only to theoretically lose that spot, not to a competitor, but to a Google SERP change like an image block or news release showing the most relevant, recent content, or even local/social results in certain areas of the country. They didn’t do anything wrong, they’re still awesome…Google just changed. In addition, the level of awesome traffic they got from being #1, in some cases, didn’t lead to the same relative growth in lead processing and thus, bottom line effects.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had recently where we are delivering the “bad” news of lost rankings to a client and they feel sad and ask us what we’ve been doing! But, then we show them all the other ways they’re getting traffic and the better lead sources we’ve put in place for them to process through their sales and marketing funnel. Then I prove it…”has your bottom line been affected negatively or positively?” Then it hits them, their bottom line is a much more complex equation than just rankings because they are closing more qualified leads regardless of the position of a keyword. It’s time for the adoption of bigger marketing. It’s time to be open to search engine changes and thus search engine optimization changes.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” - Albert Einstein

So those ch-ch-ch-changes…

Let’s talk about the newest evolution in Google’s Result Pages. This is going to be short and sweet because Dr. Pete already did most of the research and tracking for us. (He’s one of my “search” heroes)

Behold, all of the different looks you’ll get based on various search queries about tacos!


With so many different ways to view search queries, someone has to ask the question, “why?” It’s really only a matter of the obvious. Google wants to give you the answers you’d expect in the view you’ll best digest them. Google is moving to Search Intent! They want to have a conversation with you now. They give different results based on what you’ve been searching for recently, the time of day, your location, etc. They can only know what you ‘mean’ by your search query if they know “YOU”. (Wil Critchlow White Boards this concept here)

Obviously, this changes how your website is ranked, how it is found, and how it is searched. The key here is that Google wants to give more credit to already talked about websites/brands. Those links are important, but being talked about is so much bigger than just a link. What better way to be verified than by being found on local site listings and social profiles? Those are a lot harder to get into and a lot harder to manipulate…so don’t. ProspectMX has moved clients into different activities and focuses to broaden their reach and it’s shown great success for some of the first adopting clients. These changes are getting more and more familiar to real traditional marketing. Real marketing in the digital/internet space. Inbound marketing for the growth driven business.

Businesses that are driven to grow are driven to change.

Embrace change.

By Joshua Cranmer, Director of Client Marketing at ProspectMX