With trillions of web pages on the internet, it’s essential for businesses to create SEO friendly content that their target audience will find on search engines. Being discovered is only the first part of the journey that will eventually lead to a sale or conversion. To get the most out of their online presence, it’s vital for the content you create to reach additional people. Last week, SEO marketers began to notice a test on Google Search that will make it easier to share links found on SERPs.
Getting people to share things they find online is a critical part of an effective online marketing campaign. Sharing is the first step towards something going viral. However, it’s hard to get the ball rolling the way search engine results on Google are set up. If you see a link on Google you want to share, you need to click the link, then share the page. Google may be planning on simplifying the task by adding sharing features on SERPs.
The test was seen in the search results of several SEO marketers, who posted images of the trial in action on Twitter. The screenshots showed the feature in Google search results that lets users share a particular search result. The sharing tool has three icons, one to share, one to open the cache page and one to open the result in a new window.
Though this feature would be helpful for marketers, there are several reasons why sharing icons on search results may not make it out of beta testing. Even if the feature works perfectly, it can negatively affect website owners. For example, by eliminating the need to click on a page to share it, the feature could reduce the traffic that pages see from Google. However, if more people see and click on the link after it’s been shared, it may better overall.
Google is already criticized for the way answer cards and knowledge panels eliminate the need for people to visit a website to get the information they need. An entire system devoted to allowing searchers to skip visiting a website may not be popular with website owners and content creation.
Similarly, getting people to share links they haven’t visited could become problematic in other ways. The headline and snippets are only a tiny part of the content on SERPs. If people aren’t reading pages before sharing them, there’s a good chance that consumers may share low-quality pages that have inaccurate information. It’s not a good idea to teach people that all they need to do is read a headline and the snippet to know if something is worth sharing.
It could even lead to deceptive SEO practices. It’s easy to imagine a situation where headlines and snippets are designed to give a particular impression that tricks people to sharing content. This kind of deception was used often on Facebook until they made algorithm changes to punish people who use the tactic. One article would be promoted to conflicting interest groups by using a different (sometimes contradictory) headline and snippet.
Adding sharing features to Google Search may be helpful in principle, but the way the feature is implemented will decide how much website owners and content creators support the plan. SEO marketers will have to wait to see how Google chooses to use these tools.
For more information about updates and changes to Google, read this article on a new plan to display customer photos in PPC shopping ads.