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7 Historic Changes in Google Search Results: Why You Should Be Keeping Up

By John Mahood

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The search engine we now know as “Google” was founded in 1996 with a mission to “organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.” Google has evolved from a simple tool providing only natural search results, to a mass database including tools such as AdWords, YouTube, Google+ and multiple other platforms. Users can now share and view the infinite amount of information the Google founders intended. Mission accomplished.

So, where should your brand be showing up on the present-day Google?

1. Natural Search Results

Natural, also known as “organic,” search results are the listings that appear below the paid results on your Google search page. The function of the original Google in 1996 was to generate natural results that were relevant to users’ search terms.

Your brand can rank in these results by doing some quality keyword research and providing information that is useful to your audience (see our blog on optimizing your content). But be careful–you can’t benefit from loading your website with keywords and backlinks anymore!

2. Google AdWords

Pay per click (PPC) advertising took off with Google AdWords in the fall of 2000, allowing businesses to pay for their listings to appear at the top of search results. These are called paid search results.

You can start a PPC campaign on Google AdWords to get your business into paid search results. Keyword research also comes in handy using these campaigns! Depending on the search term, the minimum bid to get into search results could be as little as a couple dollars.

3. Google+ Local

Google Local was introduced in 2004 as a way to provide maps and directions to local businesses. Now combined with Google Maps, users can find local businesses on Google+ Local.

You can connect with customers on Google+ Local by signing up for Places for Business.

4. Google+ Authorship

This feature of Google searches was recently introduced in the past few months. When you do a search and find an article listed with a profile picture next to it, that is Google Authorship linking that content to the author’s Google+ profile. Businesses can use this tool to build authority with their online content and blogs.

5. YouTube

Google acquired YouTube in 2006, a platform that allows users to upload, share and view videos with other users and visitors. If your business shows up as a video, its visual appeal can still attract visitors, even if it’s ranked third in search results. This is also a place to post snappy, engaging videos that will pull in leads for your business.

6. Images

Image search launched on Google in 2001, which allows users to search for images on the web. Just like video, images are attractive to users. You can show up in search results by getting your business a Pinterest account, or by adding images to your website and other social media.

7. Shopping

Google Shopping tools were the last to be developed in 2012. It provides an easy way for users to search for products from sites across the web. If you’re in ecommerce, it would be beneficial for you to get your products onto Google Shopping through the Merchant Center within Google.  


So, where should your brand be showing up on the present-day Google? The answer is, everywhere! Optimizing for one of these tools carries over into every other area. Today’s businesses should be taking the necessary steps to optimize for all of these locations in order to show up in as many ways as possible in search results.

For added assistance, check out Google Inside Search to learn more about How Search Works.