Changes afoot on Google results pages

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Grant Whiteside

Online marketing is a constantly changing landscape and it seems that it is currently going through a rather turbulent period of experimenting and change, especially when concerning Google. Recently we have noticed some peculiar occurrences in the UK- especially in relation to local results and paid search.Today they made it more official and labeled it an ‘experiment‘. They have also said this about it

In some searches, we have noticed that different representations appear on the page each time we search generic terms. In the example below, we searched for the term ‘plumbers’ in Birmingham and the front page results that followed were almost exclusively paid links and local search.

Screenshot image of results

This, in itself increases the importance of pay per click, and may present some concern for those who rely on SEO as natural results get pushed further down the page, or even off it. However, there is another rather unusual feature about this result, and that is the map. Unlike the usual format, which would see a map incorporated as part of the usual search results, the map appeared as an independent floating frame to the right hand side of the results, and as we scrolled down the site, it followed, smoothly hovering over any sponsored links in its way. This will directly affect the amount of clicks, and lower the quality score for the links. It seems very odd that Google would treat paid links in such a manner, even in beta whilst testing out new formats, but suggests that along with the introduction of Google boost in some parts of the USA, Google is really experimenting with local search and the possibilities of breaking into the classified market that is yet to be cracked.

Ambergreen does not see this as an end to SEO, but yet another intriguing innovation that will need to be taken into account, if anything comes of it. We’d love to hear if you have experienced anything similar that suggests a shake-up in the Google jungle.