What Google Starred Results Means to Search Engine Optimization?

by Wayne Liew

in Marketing

While doing some routine searches on Google today, I noticed a small star appears at the side of each search result item. Popular blogs haven’t got their hands on this and I have no idea whether this is an experimental or a permanent feature.

One thing is for sure though. Google has been introducing a lot of additional features to its search engines to introduce personalization into their search results. Google Starred Results will definitely bring the level of personalization in search to another level.

Google Starred Results 
(Click on image to enlarge screenshot.)

The basic idea is, searchers can now ‘star’ items that appear in search results and when they conduct the search again, all the starred results will appear on top of all other search result items.

What does this mean for search engine optimization efforts? Why should you pay attention to this?


Search Results Curation – More Than Just Content

I know, great content, great content and great content… You hear this all over the Internet. Now, with starred results, not only that your content should be great, it must also be relevant to the audience that you are targeting.

A search term may bring up multiple results with roughly the same idea behind their content. However, other elements such as the design, content presentation and the overall experience at a page will now play a role in influencing a user whether to ‘star’ that particular page in the search results.

As a marketer, you need to make sure your content explains ideas in the context of your target audience and that they are presented in a way that your target audience favors.

Higher Return Visits from Google

If you look at your analytics software installed to your blog or website right now, a large percentage of traffic from Google or other search engines are new visitors, which means that these visitors never visited your site before.

With the introduction of Starred Results, useful and relevant content will appear on top of search results and start to receive a higher percentage of return visits from Google. This is simply because users, if given the choice, do not want to spend time going through tons of search results to find what they need.

Content or Search Engine Optimization?

The explanation above may bring along a headache for marketers and small business owners who are just dipping their feet into search engine optimization (SEO). Since the relevance of content is becoming important, should we be discarding our focus on SEO?

Well, SEO and content creation goes hand-in-hand. Without well-crafted and relevant content, users will leave your page even though you rank first on search engines. Also, useful content get links from other sites and this definitely helps in SEO.

On the other hand, great content without proper SEO elements will be left deep in the search results. If a page is ranked in the 100th page for a search term, the chances for it to be discovered is nil and you can forget about getting the page some stars on Google.

Prediction: Curation by Searchers Gain Momentum

Google Starred Results seems to me like a stripped down version of Google SearchWiki, which was introduced in early 2008. Instead of a simple ‘star’, users were given the opportunity to vote up/down for search result items and even comment on them. Of course, ‘starring’ result items is definitely more intuitive and require lesser efforts from the user side.

Nevertheless, the introduction of Starred Results shows the seriousness of Google in giving its search engine users the power to personalize search results. Their starring (or perhaps, voting) activity will definitely be taken into account in the ranking algorithm one day.

Your Thoughts on Google Starred Results

How do you think the search engine optimization arena will change as a result of Google’s continuous push towards personalized results? Also, how will your online marketing strategy align itself with these changes?

Leave a comment in the comments section below with your thoughts.

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{ 95 comments }

Fred May 23, 2010 at 3:57 am

My site got a star and is scares me that i do not know what it is… also brought up soocerdeals.net right beside it and not starred???? I've got other people running queries to try to see… thought maybe it was personalization or having to do with my google social circle

SEOP.com May 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

Great points. Let's just hope that no one abuses this new feature and end up Google taking it down.

Guest June 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I think it's really annoying the way everything is going this direction for multiple reasons. One because when people don't see the same thing is search results it makes communicating thingsa regarding searches MUCH harder. I often tell people, search for The Farthest Shore and the third result will be http://TheFarthestShore.com or I'm doing a search for something online with a friend over the phone and we're talking about the results. This will no longer be possible. It's like a reference library run by a simulation of your own brain. Then you have to know yourself well enough to figure out how to search. lol.
Furthermore, it bumps sites up or down based on favorites essentially, which so often makes it HARDER to find something the search engine doesn't think is relevant and many things get swept under the rug.

Katie June 4, 2010 at 4:29 am

Google will have to create more things like these 'stars' if they are to keep facebook LIKE buttons and their eventual search from taking over the Internet.

Pete June 5, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I'm contemplating whether having many Starred actions for a website could actually improve the ranking of the website in terms of SEO. As it appears it could be technically counted as a positive vote for a websites credibility??

Dwi Wahyudi June 14, 2010 at 11:22 am

Friendship greeting from Indonesian bloggers, particularly bloggers from borneo country. I am currently interested in entrepreneurship and is trying to practice it. Btw, your blog link on my post on my blogroll. Had pleased to exchange links, I'll be delighted. Thank you very much …

Yanick Gosselin June 25, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Was wondering what are those stars, thank you!

Blogger Templates July 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I never liked the stars results.Is the space there. :)

get free info July 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Well that explains it pretty good and seems to be a good answer as Google has made alot of changes lately.

Ralph Slatton July 19, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I'm still not sure I understand. Are individuals able to rank relevant hits to the top of their search. Does this mean we can push bad links down? Great article!

Campusfork July 23, 2010 at 10:40 am

Awesome post. I searched “food photos hong kong” and received a star.

As a bootstrap entrepreneur, this helps me with my SEO.

Rayfil Wong
Foodporn Addict -Campusfork.com

McClain @ In2OnlineHelp.com July 27, 2010 at 6:36 am

Wayne;

I appreciate your thoughts and we are seeing some result from the Goog and her push to more personalized results.

I had an adsense ad for far east travel follow me around as I visited a number of websites.

I had visited a travel agency in the am and did not get rid of this for almost a full day.

Go figure!

Thanks,

McClain

website worth calculator August 6, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Fully agree with your points here. All the posts are fully informative and having very good themes. I love to visit your blog again and again its really increase my knowledge. Thanks for the awesome post.

Chin M C August 10, 2010 at 12:29 am

HI there , I just fond out that there is a star at my google search result – i wanted to find out what it means and I found your explanation which is very helpful – thanks you very much

Chin M C August 10, 2010 at 12:30 am

HI there , I just fond out that there is a star at my google search result – i wanted to find out what it means and I found your explanation which is very helpful – thanks you very much

Barsaak August 10, 2010 at 3:13 am

Starred Results will be shown on your pc only. not worry about it.

Addicted2scents August 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I have never heard of this nor noticed it before, but info to help keep up with the competition is very much appreciated. Thanks for the tips.

samuel September 5, 2010 at 2:11 am

Great post bro! thanks for sharing and keep the good work up!

Maybray September 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

You need to be logged into see these starred results.

Charlie September 8, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Just did a search to find out about the star and landed here. Was wondering why my website would move to the top of the list when I clicked on the star, so now I know.

Thanks Wayne.

ps: Hope other people click on the star!!

Jovanky De Los Santos September 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I found your post after seeing one of my own blog posts starred and didn't know what to make out of it. This answers my questions and I am definitely happy people find my content interesting enough to star my writing. Great work explaining.

Mahajan_RaviK September 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

A Query that pertains to `Google Search’. . I have written to them but no answer has reached me yet

issue is that one fine day I searched for a term “correspondence education institute” on Google and got the number 10 in the Result, incidentally next time when I hit the same word I got the number 9 . . and today morning I get . . . Results 1 – 6 of 6 for “correspondence education institute”. (0.15 seconds)

I can understand the increase in the number, but how do i talks abt decrease in the number; whether the pages of “correspondence education institute” have been withdrawn from net.

I am sure you will very kindly take out time to get me some satisfying answer to the issue simmering in my mind

Dr Ravi K Mahajan

Wayne Liew September 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm

It is impossible for Google to show only 6 results for the term. My own
Googling shows that Google has over 6 million results for the term.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=US&source=hp&q=correspondence+education+institute

Back to your question on decreasing number of results. The number of
websites indexed on a particular result page may decrease due to removal of
website by site owners. Google may also, from time to time, remove websites
from certain results page if it finds that they are no longer related to the
particular search term.

I hope my answer helps.

Fabulously Broke October 11, 2010 at 12:03 am

No kidding. I always wondered what that star meant!!!

Chris October 13, 2010 at 7:49 am

Hi Wayne, very useful information. I did notice as well that after starring our website http://www.westlake-it.co.uk that the local results map disappears which is annoying to say the least as i like to check where we are on the list. Anyway keep up the good work!

Stasey November 9, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Why, I – I don’t know what to say. I feel like a star! http://www.stasey.com | http://www.twitter.com/stasey

heathsoldwares November 12, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Gday Wayne,
Thanks for the information, my website was not showing up to page 50, 8 months ago- i sat there and went through pages, i just typed in antiques and we came up on page 1 with a star, but the website, http://www.heathsoldwares.com.au came up listed on page 6. I am still a little confused, does this mean we came up page 1 starred because we search antiques a lot or because we are infact climbing in the rankings. cheers Eve

Joel Guanzon November 24, 2010 at 6:02 am

if your site has been starred that will be have an effect to your keyword rank sir?

Phil December 11, 2010 at 1:18 am

I assume from the description of giving star sites priority on my own search that I am not seeing what my customers are seeing as to search results. Must I log in as a different user to see the listing order that a new client will see?

T shirt printing December 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I thought starred results only reflected your personally connected content. In my experience, no one else will see your starred results.

SEO Expert January 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Starred results on Google can help get you on top fast

Fx Trader January 28, 2011 at 2:16 am

I do have a website that has Google stars. I did not know what it was so I did a search and ended up here. That website has two pages number one for my keyword and both pages have stars. That keyword is suppose to have 19,000 searches a month but I only get About 50 to 100 visitors a month. It makes about twenty adsense dollars a month from free traffic. The stars don’t seem to help my bottom line.

Larry January 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I see that Google clearly says that clicking the star does not effect search ranking for other users.

Wayne Liew February 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

I would say that measuring a site’s authority from multiple channels such as backlinks, social media mentions and “stars” by users and other potential elements is crucial. Relying on just one source of measurement will definitely lead to abuse down the road by spammers.

Scott Arnold February 18, 2011 at 10:05 pm

An interesting idea but I am wondering its total worth. I usually use a search engine to find a specific item or service. If I am looking for a/c repair, I would enter a/c repair (my city) and look at the results from that search. I’m not sure how google’s star would be influenced by or effect my search. So what you are inferring is that when I enter a/c repair (my city), google would rank a starred site higher? Don’t they use some google magic to do that now, like key words, key phrases, meta-tags, etc. I am not sure I see the benefit when it appears that hits, tags, relevant content, age, etc influence a sites position in the search engine. Are you implying that a new site with lousy content would rank high it everyone turned on its google star? I might not even go to a site and still turn on its google star!

Smashinbeauty March 30, 2011 at 7:59 am

thanks :))

tony April 23, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I agree, it’s been around for a while now. Businesses (websites) should focus on the user experience, load times, optimization, but also how it’s integrated with social media, and digital devices. (again nothing new) The key is to get people talking about your business vs. you announcing/spamming all the likes and followers you may have.

Wayne Liew April 24, 2011 at 8:58 am

Definitely the things that you have mentioned are not new but time after time, businesses prefer the easy way out by putting their products or services on loudspeakers instead of spending the time to build relationships, provide useful content and engage with their communities.

Brian May 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This is really interesting. My little blog is about triathlon training, gear, lifestyle, etc and my search results were always pretty dismal. I’m starting to see an small increase in traffic however and just noticed that one of my blog posts has a Google star putting it at the top of the search results (Triathlon Gear Reviews). Needless to say, I’m pretty excited because my content usually resided somewhere around page 10. Wondering how I can get more of my posts show up in this manner. Was it something that I did correctly for once (ie. SEO or content or both) or just beginner’s luck?

In case anyone’s wondering, here’s a link to the search results. Hope that the link actually works.

http://www.google.com/search?sclient=psy&hl=en&site=&source=hp&q=triathlon+gear+reviews&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1

Soan June 6, 2011 at 3:02 am

I could not understand the concept clearly. Are starred results only visible for personalization? I mean if i starred something, then only i would be able to see it next time in my google search?
Or the starred result will accumulate all stars by all users and then move the result up in Google ratings?
Please clarify.

Wayne Liew June 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

The stars supposedly are used by users to create personalized search results but this blog post of mine was arguing that Google, in the long run, may use the accumulated data from these stars in their search engine algorithm.

Anyway, as of today, the stars will be taken off and be replaced by a new experimental feature called Google +1.

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