The Five Pillars Of Google Search - Do You Know Them?

Google is constantly changing not only who it ranks but how it ranks their search results. Recently, there seems to be major and minor shifts in both Google's ranking system and how they display their results.

The Five Pillars Of Google Search - Do You Know Them?

  • Copyright © Titus Hoskins
  • Google is the new Rome. All searches lead to Google. And you better play by the emperor's rules or else you'll suffer something far worst than a simple crucifixion: removal of your #1 keyword listings from Google.

    Google seems to be making subtle and not so subtle changes to how it both ranks and displays its search engine results. Those of us who earn a professional living from the web are acutely aware of some distinct shifts in recent months that Google has been making.

    In SEO circles, all the chatter is about brands and branding, as first mentioned in Webmasterworld and then later discussed in a very good detailed article by Aaron Wall. Basically, what everyone is noticing, Google is placing more emphasis on big name brands and bringing these brands onto their first page listings for many popular and lucrative keywords.

    While this is more than an obvious fact for webmasters and especially for web marketers like myself who monitor and compete in the ever increasingly competitive gladiatorial world of keyword dominance. Like the last days of Rome, these battles are becoming downright brutal and vicious.

    And like any professional online marketer I do have some favorite keyword phrases which I target with my marketing. It is through the observances of those keywords that I have derived the following conclusions (observable speculations) of what I believe Google is doing with its search results.

    The rules of the game have changed somewhat over the last little while, first page listings have become more dynamic. Both in who's listed but more so in HOW they're listed. Google has changed them with a very open mind to what searchers using their index want to see in the results. Google is catering to public demand as the Internet keeps changing. The overwhelming popularity of videos, social networks and interactive sites like Twitter have really changed the web as we know it. Information now comes in many varied formats and Google is adjusting and evolving along with the times.

    Often, it is extremely hard to discuss Google Search without going into details of the actual keyword phrases that professional marketers are using in their marketing but giving away too many secrets can increase your competition 100-fold, so in discussing what's really happening with Google search, I will NOT break this cardinal rule of online marketing by directly revealing any of my most lucrative keywords.

    However, I will give you a few clues to one of them, it's something to do with electronics with the initials "G L" - you figure it out! But played out around this major keyword phrase and many others, I have seen many Google shifts and movements over the years but none quite as active or dramatic as in the last 6 months. Florida, Bourbon, Big Daddy... didn't negatively affect my keyword listings, rather they increased them.

    For a few glorious years I even had the number one spot in Google for the "major keyword" mentioned above. Not anymore. Things have changed in Rome. Really changed. From my observations, Google seems to be classifying and breaking their search results into Five Groups, Categories, Pillars or call them what you like, but Google is using these distinct classifications to display their SERPs. Some times all of them are listed, sometimes just a few... these Five Pillars are:

    1. News - Google is now listing News links at the top of organic search. They have been doing this for some time but only recently have they been doing it for my "major keyword" and it is something new that is happening sporadically, one day it's there, the next it's not. The nature of the beast.

    Google News Results

    2. Product Shopping - Google has been listing product links (best places to buy which used to be called Froogle) for quite some time for appropriate keywords. They now do this for the phrase here but these listings seems to be moving down to the middle of the page. Used to be at the top before. They're juggling this placement around it seems.

    Google News Results

    3. Brands - Google is now listing major brands or big name brand sites for lucrative keyword phrases. This, as Aaron Wall and other SEO experts have pointed out, is a new direction for Google. Matt Cutts says these are suble moves on Google's part, but believe me, if you're competing for these keywords and to suddenly have those top brand names barging onto the first page listings, will scare the bejesus out of any web marketer worth their SEO salt.

    Google Brand Results

    4. Information - This is the category or Pillar that has always been presented at the top of the listings and on the whole first page of results in the past. Most results still belong to this group for thankfully, Google has not abandoned "information" but it is now only a minor pillar which has to take it's place along with the others. By information, I am talking about sites mainly devoted to giving information on the searched term. Information sites like Wikipedia, IMDB, PCWorld... guides, review sites and the like. You also see Blog Posts on certain popular keywords.

    Google Information Results

    5. Videos/Images - Google is placing more and more video results on the first page. Again, Google has been doing this for quite some time so it's not exactly breaking news. Google is also juggling the placement of these videos in their listings.

    Google Video Results

    I have seen Google use all these categories or groups in other keyword phrases I have been monitoring. But I believe Google is concentrating on the lucrative keyword phrases first and will probably work its way down through all the moneyed keywords on the web. I am not seeing these 5 groups of listings in other minor keywords as of yet. Obviously, many keywords won't be newsworthy, have videos or even major brands attached to them.

    Another point, is Google using the number of social bookmarks, number of Diggs, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers and the like - to not only rank sites but to rank online personalities and writers? Does a "Brand You" filter play a role in Google's SERPs or how they rank their content? Is the total amount of online chatter associated with you and your sites a good thing in the eyes of Google and will it propel you to the top? Probably so, since it's online Democracy at its simplest.

    One big question, will Google make its SERPs dynamic, giving news in top spot, then videos, then products... mix it up so that each searcher will get a different listing in the top spot. This doesn't sound so ridiculous if you consider Google is now giving you the option of moving your favorite listing up or down in your own personal search version of Google. Besides, can you really rank products, videos or news - Google can place them anywhere on the page, including the top.

    In my limited opinion, wherever it can be applied, I believe Google will eventully give all their results SERPS in this 5-prong manner in order to give its users the best "possible experience" and frankly this is ultimately the name of the game for any search engine, not just for Google. Nor am I criticizing Google for making these moves, basically when we're searching for something - we should demand all these options: news, shopping products, major brands, videos and information. Basically, it's all information but it's divided into these sections for our convenience.

    However, this will have some serious consequences for the SEO addicts and online marketers like myself. It seriously limits your opportunities to get listed in the number one position in Google. Our job has become much harder, if not impossible. We all know that the number one spot receives most of the traffic for any keyword searched - except when Google "double lists" a site at the top of the page. Obtaining that number one spot has just gotten much more difficult for everyone concerned.

    It's not just getting listed for the "information catergory" anymore, but you have to consider getting listed for News, Videos or Brands, which is obviously out of reach for the little guy. You will never know which of these Google will decide to place at the top of the list on the first page. The only sure bet is PPC listings but these never draw as much as the #1 organic results and is rather costly.

    Also worrisome is the transitory or temportary nature of these SERFs for the online marketer or SEO facilitators. Obtaining a permanent listing in your key niche market is much harder if valuable real estate is taken up by categories such as news, videos, products... which are temportary in nature.

    Another issue, Google no doubt, will include in its brands the major well-established sites like Wiki, IMFB, PCWorld... again, the small webmasters are defeated before they even start. Mainly because to compete in all these areas of search will take tremendous resources the small webmaster simply just does not have.

    I believe there is a major shift, whether intentional or not, to wipe out all the small "mom and pop" websites on the web. The introduction and use of these five categories will only herald in the demise of the little guy. Big business will take over all the lucrative keywords, just as they have taken over everything else. Big money will eventually control all of the web. The days of the small online webmasters and marketers competing effectively in Google are numbered. The evidence is staring you in the face on those first page results.

    Webmasters must develop a brand, target news, make videos and fully integrate their sites into Google's more Multi-Layered search results if they want to survive. Even then, competing with the vast resources of the major brand name companies will be difficult, if not impossible.

    As for me, my listing for that "major keyword" is still on the first page in Google, but just barely. Eventually, it will be squeezed out by the big brand names and Google's new way of doing business. Mainly because the target has just been narrowed down by a factor of five and has become much smaller. Hitting it will be extremely difficult, unless of course, Rome falls but that's not going to happen any time soon. Where are those barbarians when you really need them.

    Titus Hoskins

  • March 4th, 2009

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    Titus Hoskins My name is and I am an artist, writer and webmaster. I am also a former art teacher who has been a full-time Online Professional Marketer for the last 10 years. is my main website, but I have many more. You can follow me on Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.


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