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How to Prevent Google Related From Killing Sales

By: Jessica Guadiana on March 5, 2012

In 2011, Google announced an update to their popular web browser toolbar, where future versions will now feature a product called “Google Related”. According to Google, Google Related is a floating toolbar that when activated will display useful, interesting content related to the sites users are visiting. Google uses its own properties, such as Google Search, Google News, and YouTube, to create this list of related content.

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.

It’s important to note that the Google Related toolbar does not populate for every page, but rather on those occasions when Google has suggestions to offer. When it does appear, Google Related will display related content Google finds from its own search results. This includes results from Google’s organic listings, Google Images, Shopping, News, Reviews, Places, Maps and YouTube. At this time, however, Google Related is not featuring AdWords ads.

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?

Fortunately, there is a way to prevent Google Related from appearing on your site. Over at SEO Egg Head, they have developed a piece of JavaScript that blocks Google Related from popping up completely. According to them, in order for the toolbar to appear, Google “modifies your web site’s HTML.” So to block it, all one needs to do is ensure they have jQuery already installed and then just add this piece of JavaScript into your head tags.

<!--Disable Google Related-->
<script type="text/javascript">
// (<a href="http://www.seoegghead.com/blog/google/how-to-disable-google-related-with-jquery-p859.html">http://www.seoegghead.com/blog/google/how-to-disable-google-related-with-jquery-p859.html</a>)
var cnt = 0;
var interval = 0;
var f = function () {
var css = {cssText:'display:none !important; visibility: hidden !important'};
var gr = $('iframe[src^="http://www.gstatic.com/webgps/grelated"]');
gr.css(css).prev('div').css(css);
if (++cnt > 5 || gr.length) clearInterval(interval);
};
f();
$(function () {
interval = setInterval(f, 500);
});
</script>

We have successfully implemented this fix into multiple Yahoo! Stores and have confirmed that it works as instructed. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Google won’t change the way it works in the future and thus render the JavaScript useless. Previously, there were solutions written using CSS that appear to no longer work. Needless to say, if you install this fix onto your website, it’s important to periodically review it to ensure that it works over time.

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 Search

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.

Google Shopping

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 Images

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/Places

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

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.

Google News

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

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.

Update!
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.

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About the Author

Jessica Guadiana has been a Search Engine Marketer with us since 2005. She has helped many of our clients develop and implement marketing strategies for their budding business ventures. Jessica is also the key master for the graphic design department and creates many of our in-house design projects.
  Read more articles by Jessica Guadiana

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