Who said Google was stagnant and Bing was the company re-inventing the way people search? I’m not sure that anyone did, but if they were to have said something like that, or that thought maybe crossed your mind, then you are looking around confused right about now. I mean for the one product Google has that is not in beta (search), they are surely making some sweeping changes.
With the spattering of changes affecting the Google search results page, it seems like the big picture is getting lost in the shuffle. The big picture being the user and how you can serve your users better. This is what Google is always going to strive for, and if they have to build it in to their search pages, algorithm or just mention that it might help with search, such as how fast your page loads, how your site looks, where your site is located in relation to the user.
These are all changes geared at making the user experience better. This should also be the focus of your web site efforts, so the goals of SEO should mirror the goals of Google by striving to make your site accessible, straightforward, content relevant and useful to your target user. Think, what does my site add to the Internet ecosystem so to speak. What does my site provide that will benefit people and how can I make it even better? Don’t wait for Google to answer this for you and end up playing catchup, start there and you and Google will hopefully arrive at the same conclusion. As in the case of a faster site, hopefully you realize that this is important for users and worked to clean up your code and take other steps to optimize your page load time for your users, not because Google decided to implement it in both the paid search quality score and more recently in it’s organic algo. This should just be a signal that your intuition that page load speed matters to users, is also important to Google and that you are moving in the right direction.If you do that, you will be rewarded by loyal customers, readers, guests in addition to Google, whether it’s around now or not. Perhaps you focused on page design and UX for the past year or so because you wanted to make your site easier for users to find what they are looking for, you are probably jumping up and down about now that Google has rolled out preview because you get a certain feeling that by doing the right thing for the user on your own, and you don’t have to play catchup with your less than tasteful or ugly site.
I guess the point is, and Mike Moran, IBM Engineer and author of Search Engine Optimization, Inc. wrote a great piece that goes further in to this here. Suffice to say, by focusing on the user and their experience, eventually the goals of your site will align with what Google might be focusing on at the moment, or maybe not. But if it benefits the people who participate, pay, click, read your site and it doesn’t feel like your doing something black hat (check if it does), then you will probably be better off for it, regardless of whether Google officially recognizes it as a factor in determining the arrangement of your page in the SERPS.