Like it or not many retailers are at the mercy of Google and organic search for a significant amount of revenue and traffic. This can be both a good and a bad thing, its free and can represent significant revenue, but you are also at their mercy and a page drop for a keyword can mean a lot of lost money. There have been many discussions about the changes Google has been making to their search engine results pages recently with Josh even writing about it last year. What interests me is not only how many changes they have made, but what that has done to what is displayed above the fold of those pages. Taking the pages as a whole it may not seem like much has changed, but when you look at the content above the fold I think Google has drastically changed the layout and content displayed. I put together a couple of examples...
A simple search for bathroom faucets has new elements that include: a much more prominent top ad display box with the inclusion of AdWords Ad Extensions such as Ad Site Links, Google instant which will automatically change the results of the page based upon what is being typed, Google Suggest which drops down a box of suggested or alternate search phrases, an altered left hand navigation pane, and a section for related searches which can include other brands, stores or types.
An alternative search for Kohler bathroom faucets shows the actual Kohler website multiple times in the top three organic results as well as having an ad in the top ad unit.
A search for shower doors shows more prominent local listings with a map on the right and extended listing of local results further down the page.
What I find interesting, is that over time Google has added more and more elements to their results, given ads a more prominent focus and placement, and in many cases simply over complicated search. Didn’t they used to be known for a simple set of relevant results? Don’t get me wrong, I am a Google fan boy but when looking at the content above the fold on their results pages, I start to get overwhelmed by the number of elements and the amount of ads.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
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