Google’s Wonder Wheel

Google are rolling out various search options that, in theory, will change the way you search for things. It’s unclear how widely available they are at the moment, but plenty of people are seeing a small ‘show options’ link at the top of their search results, which opens up  a new page of tools to refine and redirect your search. Think of them as an indication of where Google imagines search going.

One of the flashiest ones (in more ways than one – as it’s powered by flash) is the wonderwheel. Click on it and you’ll get something like the following – where the search term is google wonder wheel

Google's WonderWheel in action

Click on the tangential circle ‘document cookie’ and you get this, with a different set of results

Google's WonderWheel in action

This is a handy function broadly fitting into that noble category of ‘second guessing’ your search request. In many cases when you search for something, you’re not 100% sure that you’ve used the correct search term to produce what you’re looking for. This function gives you some visual clues to hopefully get you arriving on target.

What does it mean for search engine optimisation? Well, it’s a very clear indication that Google , when faced with competition whether it be from social networks like twitter, or from computational answer machines like the much-touted (bologna failing) Wolfram Alpha, is refusing to stand still. It means that the search engine giant is actively working to change how people search – and if it changes how people search, then there are various sites that will no-doubt find themselves in difficulty (just as other sites will see themselves getting an unexpected boost).

How to prepare yourself for these changes? Well it’s back to basics, and the most common sense approach. Make sure your site is designed following the clear guidelines that google and others have published. Make sure your site offers original and useful content – and make sure that that content is visible to all your visitors (search engine bots included). Get online and converse – let people know your site is there (and they in turn, if it’s of value, will let others know – including search engines).

In short, make your website the best it can be for your potential visitors, rather than solely focussing on google pagerank and s.e.r.p’s etc.

With specific regard to Google’s Wonder Wheel
Try using it on your own list of keywords for your site. See what related searches come out, and consider whether your site fits into those categories – and if so, are you presenting your content effectively enough to attract visitors for new keyword phrases.

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