Go online right now and search the name of one of the presidential candidates. What do you see?
I’ll save you the trouble – you see a visually appealing new carousel display that allows you to scroll through the most recent news updates for the candidate in question. The new SERP layout is the result of a nice new feature Google debuted last month as a way for political candidates to respond to one another after debates and post stances on important issues like education and immigration.
While the new feature (which doesn’t yet have an official name) is still in the limited stages of a roll-out, it has the potential to change the front page of Google’s SERPs forever.
Big claim—but true!
Here’s what you need to know about this huge new change.
WHAT: What Do The New Changes Look Like?
If you were to go to Google right now and type in Hillary Clinton’s name, here’s what you’d see:
WHO: Who Can Use The New Feature?
Currently, Google’s nameless feature is in the infancy of its roll out. As it stands now, it’s only available to select presidential candidates (At the time of this writing, Donald Trump and John Kasich aren’t using it, for example, while Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are) and some small businesses, like A Healthy Choice Spa.
While access to this feature is currently limited, Google is offering a waitlist on its website where interested businesses and individuals can sign up for access to the new search offering. Many experts expect that the feature will open up to more businesses and individuals in the future, which has the potential to change small business marketing in a big way.
HOW: How the Change Is Being Implemented (Google Explains)
Google has published a sleek new landing page dedicated entirely to the new feature. On the page, the search engine giant calls the new feature “an experimental new podium” where users can “hear directly from the candidates they’re searching for…in real time.” The change will allow users to share text, videos, and images directly to the Google feed, where it will be more visible to Google users across the web.
WHERE: Where the Benefits of Google’s New SERP Feature Are
While the so-called “posts” feature is still in its infancy, it is clear this is a change that has the potential to offer a large variety of benefits for marketers. Here are some of the most exciting aspects of this new change:
Increased visibility for visuals
Thanks to the stripped-down format of the new feature, visuals are likely to perform exceedingly well within it. Visuals feature prominently in the new carousel-style feature and, when clicked, expand to a full-screen image. From there, users can click the social sharing icon and share the post directly to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or an email.
Increased reach for brands
For years, it’s been a fight to earn a spot on the front page of Google. With the help of Google’s new feature, however, it’s likely to be easier for brands and small businesses to display content prominently to searchers without having to be proven SEO experts. This can help small businesses build a name for themselves and help individuals expand their brand.
Easy information delivery
Much like “Moments,” Google’s new feature is designed to offer a source of real-time information to Google users looking for answers. Because the feature is designed to place the most recent content first, it will be an easy place for Google users to locate timely information and the most recent updates on a topic or from a company.
Ideal platform for launching updates
Brands that want to launch beautiful, compelling product updates or sneak peaks will love the new Google feature. Thanks to its no-mess design, the feature displays important information prominently and allows interested users to navigate directly to a company or individual’s web page for more information.
While it remains to be seen exactly how marketers will utilize Google’s new feature, it’s obvious that the carousel design has a great deal to offer savvy brands and individuals.
Google never ceases to amaze and this new feature is one for the books. Elegant, simple, and clean, it enhances the experience of Google users and make it easier to find relevant information without jumping through the endless hoops of messy webpages and irrelevant content.
The overall effects of the new change will become apparent over the next several months but, for now, it’s something many marketers are anticipating eagerly.
Julia Spence-McCoy is the CEO of Express Writers, an online copywriting agency that began in 2011 with thousands of web content pages written to date and more than 50 talented writers on the team. Her passion is copywriting and all that pertains, including the ever-changing game of Google algorithm updates.