Google is providing highlight videos within SERPs for sports-related queries, and Yelp lets customers convert without even visiting company pages.

The term ‘search engine’ may one day seem anachronistic. While Google, Yahoo and even Bing started operations on an internet that was much simpler, their capabilities have extended far beyond producing search results for simple queries. In fact, the most important role they play in content marketing these days may be offering users media and information they didn’t even know they wanted.

Case in point: there’s a lot more available to searchers when they type sports teams into search bars, according to Search Engine Land’s Jennifer Slegg. Covering the discovery from Tenthwave’s Samuel Edwards, Slegg write that instead of just scores and schedules, Google users will be shown video results embedded in SERPs featuring highlights from the teams’ most recent games.

Search results go interactive

This indicates a sea change toward rich online media environments that’s been happening elsewhere on the web – specifically Facebook. Brafton previously reported that ever since 2013, video views within News Feeds have gone up 785 percent. Users don’t want to be taken to external URLs for their content – they want it as soon as possible. And while Google has been accused of scraping information and content from other sites, the fact of the matter is that Google is in the business of providing the best information quickly to users.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s all bad news for businesses trying to conduct web marketing. The Next Web reported that Yelp is starting to include more interactivity by allowing users to make reservations right from restaurant profiles. Being that Yahoo and Yelp have been content partners for some time, it isn’t a stretch to anticipate Yahoo integrating this feature in the near future. Hopefully, businesses won’t have to worry about losing visibility to search engines because they’ll still be logging conversions, regardless of whether they came through SERPs or company pages.

Content that can’t be mistaken

But what about valuable content? If brands are worried about having their web marketing content co-opted by search engines, there is a two-fold solution:

Google just wants to be the best at providing answers quickly – it doesn’t necessarily want to take credit for the answers. 

1. Use schema markup on the data you don’t mind sharing – or things that are geared toward awareness goals – and perhaps list some of the information that is beneficial to markup. It’s good to appear in SERPs, as there’s no better way to gain visibility among prospects, but you don’t want your entire website to become fodder for Google.

2. Brand all content. Articles written in a distinct voice or videos that include brief intro segments might show up in semantic SERPs, but there won’t be any mistaking their origin. Google just wants to be the best at providing answers quickly – it doesn’t necessarily want to take credit for the answers. Search will continue to be one of the best channels for branded content distribution, which means marketers will need to stay up-to-date with changes and create agile strategies that capitalize on the benefits, while minimizing the drawbacks. 

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.