As an Internet user, I can obviously see the value in such a feature. This tool would be great to have when browsing or comparison shopping online. However, as someone who also works with designing and marketing web sites for many small businesses, I can also see this feature as being a major problem. Allow me to explain.
How Does Google Related Work?
When Google Related is enabled, a toolbar will appear at the bottom of the screen and float on top of the web site the user is currently viewing. Within this toolbar, Google will present a list of related materials that the user can also view, thereby leaving the page they are currently on.
What Does This Mean for my Business?
Depending on the given industry, Google Related can play a positive role on a business’ marketing efforts, or a negative role. For example, a restaurant might welcome Google Related as it will likely display its location on a map, driving directions, and customer reviews. However, the toolbar may also highlight similar information for nearby restaurants too. This is where Google Related becomes a negative for web site owners.
The goal for every site owner is to build traffic, and convert said traffic into customers. In my restaurant example above, the goal of the owner would be to get their web site visitor through the doors and into their eatery. For other businesses, it may mean generating a phone call or getting visitors to buy a product online. Google Related is now making it difficult for site owners to convert their traffic, as it encourages visitors to leave their site for a competitor’s.
If you’re like most web site owners, you’ve no doubt spent mass amounts of time and money trying to improve your web site, and generate traffic for it. However, in the short time that Google Related has been available, some retailers have already experienced a decrease in sales and most likely an increase in bounce-rate because of it. Let me ask you, how does one withstand such an attack when it comes from within?
What Can I Do?
Reap the Benefits!
Not every web site owner is going to know about Google Related or how to disable it, so why not take advantage of it? There are different ways your site can be featured on a competitor’s web site. To make this happen, spend a little time getting listed in these Google products:
Google Related often features the top organic search results related to a web site. Should users click on the first listing, it is quite possible that Google Related will display the second, third, and fourth search listing. Now, in addition to optimizing a site for Google traffic, site owners will also be attempting to generate traffic from Google Related mentions on their competitor’s sites.
If you’re selling products on your website, but aren’t yet listed in Google Shopping, I recommend that you do so immediately. It is 100% free and allows web sites to display products near the top of Google’s search. In addition, inclusion into Google Shopping may also get web sites featured on the Google Related toolbar, and thus provide you with yet another opportunity to win traffic from your competitors.
Google Related features results from Google Images. If you are able to control the names of your images, I recommend naming them with references to your top keywords. Also, ensure the page content around the images is also optimized. Doing so will help Google to better understand your images and increase your ability to appear in the Google Related toolbar, as well as Google’s Image search.
Google Maps and Places help users to connect with their local customers. People use Google Maps in different ways. One example is to find specific driving directions to and from locations. Another example is to find local attractions or businesses that may exist near a specific location. Regardless of why people use it, business owners can benefit greatly from being included.
Also, if you’ve created a Google Maps/Places profile, your web site will have an opportunity to show up on the Google Related toolbar. Imagine being a flower shop owner and winning over a customer visiting another website simply because your store was closer than theirs.
Google Reviews is a part of Google Places. Once you have a listing on Google Places, customers will be able to leave reviews there. While it is impossible to control everything that everyone says, reviews have become an increasingly important element for online shoppers. Furthermore, these reviews are often featured on the Google Related toolbar, and can become a source of advertisement on a competitor’s site.
Not every web site can get into Google News. This is reserved for legitimate, news worthy content, and not just another marketing outlet. So it’s not going to apply for everyone. However if you’re just starting your own online news site or have a local paper that is building its online presence, then getting on Google News is good for you. It allows your content to be exposed to Google’s vast network of partner sites and readers. Through Google Related, you can also gain exposure by writing timely articles that can pop up on other larger news sites.
YouTube is easily one of Google’s most popular properties. It is integrated into Google Search results quite well. If you haven’t given much thought into using YouTube as a marketing vehicle, I’d certainly recommend that you do so now.
In addition to the normal benefits, Google Related will often highlight YouTube videos on its toolbar and for reasons other than ecommerce. Depending on the site a user is visiting, a how-to video, video review, or any other helpful video may be listed. For example, a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia could post a video about things to do in Savannah. This video may display when Google Related users visit tourism sites pertaining to the city.
Creating helpful and informative videos around your products and services may prove to be beneficial in attaining traffic from Google Related.
Google Related is both a friend and a foe. At first it seems puzzling as to why Google would create a feature like this from the view of a web site owner. However when you stop to look at it from the point-of-view of the searcher, you can understand how Google would create something that is really very useful. It’s only up to you as the web site owner to be able to take the tool into your own hands and make the best out of it.
On April 20th, 2012, Google announced they will no longer support Google Related which effectively ends this service. Here’s what they had to say on their official blog:
Google Related is an experimental browsing assistant launched to help people find interesting and useful information while they browse the web. The product isn’t experiencing the kind of adoption we’d like, and while we still believe in the value provided to our users, we’ll be retiring the existing product over the next few weeks, so the Related team can focus on creating more magic moments across other Google products.