Google Launches SERP Menus

by in Content Marketing.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that Google’s search engine results page (SERP) included clickable¬†menus for select websites. [1] Here is a screenshot:

If you click on a menu item, it loads another group of links. In addition, it loads a bit of text from that particular section of the website. For instance, here is another screenshot, after I selected the “About Us” menu item:

Why would Google include menus in its search results and what are the implications for searchers, advertisers, and website owners?

First, these menus produce a better experience for searchers. You can quickly find the most relevant pages from within Google’s search results. This saves you time. This feature also benefits advertisers and Google. If users are spending more time browsing Google’s search results they are probably more likely to see and click on a sponsored result. Higher click-through rates on ads equates to more revenue for Google. [1]

Searchers, advertisers, and Google benefit, but what are the implications for website owners? On the one hand, if searchers are more likely to find what they are looking for then website owners benefit. This assumes website owners want to serve relevant and useful information. On the other hand, if searchers are spending more time on the Google search results page, and can more easily find what they are looking for, they might bypass certain pages that website owners intended to serve users.

For example, if you’re operating a subscription-based or online retailing business, then visitors may bypass important steps in a sales funnel. For instance, users might click directly to your “About Us” page and skip your landing page or other important marketing pages. Going forward, website owners need to treat every public page as a possible landing page (e.g., include your value proposition and call-to-action on every page).

If you’re operating an advertising based business, then visitors may see fewer ads on your site because they are spending more time browsing Google’s search results and less time navigating through your website. With this in mind, website owners need to produce content and pages that delight users and compels them to stay on-site (e.g., view a second piece of content). Great content will also persuade users to come back to your site at a later date.

In closing, this new menu feature benefits searchers, advertisers, and Google. It can also benefit website owners if they structure their site properly and produce compelling content. If you’re a website owner, make sure to treat every public page as a potential landing page; and second, make sure to produce great content and pages that keep your visitors engaged.

What are your thoughts on this new feature? I’d love to hear your input below in the comments.

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[1] I realize that Google’s search results have included basic menus (links to a website’s top pages), but this is the first time I’ve seen clickable menus.

[2] I’d love to see data on how time-on-site affects click-through rates for sponsored results, especially in the context of search.

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