Pushed down by Google

Written on 04 December, 2009 by Jonathan Crossfield
Categories: Search Engine Optimisation | Tags: google

Wow - what happened to the results? Google has displayed sponsored AdWords and Local Business Results for years now, but the real-estate they occupy on the page has steadily grown. Now, it appears, for some searches the natural results have been shunted down and off the screen - below the fold.

Sure, this depends on monitor size, but my monitor ain’t small. I was tipped off to this by a coworker with the search for “cosmetic surgeon Sydney”. Quite why he was looking up local nose choppers and breast augmenters I’m afraid to ask, but it does show that the search marketing game may be shifting. The business with the number one position in the natural search results would be fuming right now - all that effort and investment and they still can’t get onto the screen! Of course, the reality is that most people will still scroll to see the natural results, but it does change the power of a natural listing on those highly competitive search results. Looking at “Mortgage Sydney” - another extremely competitive phrase - reveals the same problem.

The solution could be to target different long-tail phrases (five words or more) to reduce the competition and the risk of the Local Business results filling the page. Also, it shows that AdWords is becoming more important as strategy to sit alongside your regular SEO campaign and the best way to appear prominently for more people. Aaron Wall, over at SEOBook, suggests that this is a tactic on behalf of Google to increase the chances of a second click from the user, thereby creating more opportunities to monetise the listings. Whether this is a cynical strategy or just a side effect of Local Business Listings becoming popular, it does mean businesses are going to have to consider these factors when planning a search marketing strategy.