The End of First Page Listings on Google?

31 comments

Eeek!As John points out, a search for new york to san francisco currently only leaves 2 organic results (both of them useless..) on the first page of Google.

Is this the start of the end for first page listings?

Comments

Oh Google...what the freak

Oh Google...what the freak are you doing? :(

Saw it coming

This transition has been taking place for a long time. Lets face it, we go from ads on the side, to 2 ads on top, to now 3 ads on top, to 3 ads and froogle feeds, etc etc. Yahoo! did it and I don't see why Google wouldn't.

Question...

...are there other search engines?

Not necessarily true

I suppose what you are saying is true in a traditional understanding of 'organic' results but we might look at what is developing as way to better serve results for users of given searches. This approach, in the end, might serve out better conversion (for comercial sites) and increased stickiness (for not-for-profit sites).
This doesn't seem to be a movement for more paid listings as it movement for a better search presentation.
And if this new approach presents a new way of ranking in the SERP's then I think that is great and I welcome the challenge.

Try Gigablast

I find the results refreshing as it's not a subset of Google or Yahoo/Inktomi

BTW, want to see something REALLY BAD? Search Google for "PVR" - sheesh

uh

Quote:
I suppose what you are saying is true in a traditional understanding of 'organic' results but we might look at what is developing as way to better serve results for users of given searches. This approach, in the end, might serve out better conversion (for comercial sites) and increased stickiness (for not-for-profit sites).
This doesn't seem to be a movement for more paid listings as it movement for a better search presentation.
And if this new approach presents a new way of ranking in the SERP's then I think that is great and I welcome the challenge.

I am really trying hard to wrap my head around what you said, daltonroad. Maybe you can help a bit more.

By "increased stickiness", do you mean via sponsored placement? As in, with less volatility in the serps (if all of them are paid) it's better for the non-profits? I don't get it (and yes, I am dense today).

As for "better conversion" I assume you mean those sites that get placed, and see no competition, increase their conversion (?) Again, I don't understand your point. That does nothing but allow G to raise % revenue share.

Perhaps you are suggesting that as the SEs lock up the first page, the users will learn to navigate the rest of the SERPs instead of just clicking on #1? Isn't that throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or do you think it really that impossible for the next Google to steal market share from the next Google?

the screenshot above, right?

The screen shot above details 'news,' 'local,' 'flights' and typical organic search. I, in fact, don't even see an adwords listing (not that I suggesting that these won't be added later).

John, I don't want to get into a tawdry pissing contest (like I see happens so many times) - all I was doing was presenting the fact that the above screen shot actually shows no 'paid' [adwords ads] and that the real reason for this possible SERP update might have less to do with Google trying to screw every and more to do with user [searcher] and providing them with categorized and highly useful results, instead of the innane blathering that SERP's sometimes are...
And in terms of conversion, I mean that if a user gets results they are happy with an SE is acting more as a step element in a contiguous stream from search to end product instead of just listings then we might be better off.
Ex. If I search for 'pony' (because I want to learn to ride little ponies) and google serves me results for local pony farms and riding schools or news on the dangers of pony riding then I am more apt to get a result that is relatable to me and what I want... Don't you think that is better than just a full nationwide list? Plus, don't forget - that screen shot still shows the normal organic list.... it just has these features on top of the organic list.

In the end, search and search results are about what is best for the user - not what is best/easiest/most helpful for SEO's/SEM's. So, let google (and others) try out new stuff and find out what makes users happier and let's rejoice in the fact that our professions as SEO/SEM's nearly never stay stagnant.

ok

No pissing... for sure.

Nick didn't show the right column, but it's there with the typical PPC ads.

So you say that maybe a directory or an editorial listing serves the users best, or is worthy of testing, and that maybe it is best that the SEs explore these possibilities for serving the end user. Understood. You are free to argue that a directory better serves users than a search engine might.

However, that is quite a different animal than a search engine, with all of the Web0.0 characteristics like latancy, relevancy, politics, etc (think YP). I do not expect that from Google (yet).

..

>>>In the end, search and search results are about what is best for the user

Ha! Search results are all about making the search engines money, if you think any different you are being naive.

Useless News

here's the news that I get for the search... what a waste of space.

WellPoint's 3rd-Qtr Profit More Than Doubles on New Customers - Bloomberg - 14 hours ago
New formats and faces to replace Howard Stern - San Jose Mercury News - 15 hours ago
Alternative Press Has Strong Reactions to New Times, Village Voice ... - Editor & Publisher - 25 Oct 2005

First of all, it's a dumb-ass search

Seriously, who is going to type that [new york to san francisco]? Here, let me type in [Apple] and get peeved that they don't show Apple Temporary Employment Services as a top result. There's a saying in geekdom: GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) and this is a textbook example.

When you typed in that search, were you wanting to know the distance between the two points? Purchase info about a book about someone's travels? I mean, really, wtf do you expect from such a search?

Here, let me try something more sensible, something that someone may actually search for: [fun stuff to do in dallas]. Damn, looks spot on! How about [car rental in san francisco]? Great results again. And those are honestly the first two searches I tested (I wasn't cherry picking).

For crying out loud, can we stop thinking as Webmasters for one friggin' minute and start thinking like people who actually look for something on the Web? Hear hear, daltonroad... and lots0: glad the rest of the world isn't quite so cynical :).

really

Umm... err.. that was an *example* query. Google chose to put travel(affiliate) links onto it, as evidenced. Sometimes one needs to think beyond the textbook.

As I noted, travel being so competitive, most real-world queries are well-served (that was the point of the initial post Nick referenced).

cynical...

I call it realistic.

You can't have those nifty SERP with all that useful information just for the user, if the search engine ain't making money.

All this talk about what is best for the user, is just code for "how can we make more money".

If search was all about the 'user' experience why are all the big search engines advertising business owned by for profit corporations?

>>>For crying out loud, can we stop thinking as Webmasters for one friggin' minute...

No.

Adam, too bad one day you'll out grow your naivete. ;-)

The End of First Page

The End of First Page Listings on Google

The End of Above the Fold Listings on Google

One headline is more tabloid than the other ... ;)

Google UI Tweaks

As Google roll out more of this crap, sorry features. They will surely change the UI to make the features more usable, wont they? At the moment that screenshot doesn't feature SERPS, but it's quite obvious they don't want to feature natural search listings. With the flight widgets, local widgets and AN other widget there is the potential to create revenue.

Has anyone asked Google...

...whether they're actually being paid by the expedia etc. links?
Google mentioned they were *NOT* getting any kickbacks from booksellers via autolinks, for instance.
It'd be my guess (but I haven't heard one way or the other) that they're similarly not getting paid for *ANY* links on SERPS other than from AdWords.

Im going to start a

Im going to start a collection of comments like this adam, then in a years time, i'll show them to you.

Sure, Nick.

I stand by stuff I write, though I do sometimes do change my opinions... or admit I'm wrong when appropriate.

But just for fun, I'd be happy to pony up on a modest bet (say, $20 or so to charity) on the travel links on the referenced page; I say they're included with no compensation to Google. If you firmly believe otherwise, and we could figure out a way to definitively learn the truth... :) Or even without a money bet, we could see it as a triumph of idealism vs. cyncism or vise versa.

I think its instructive to

I think its instructive to note just WHO is appearing in the "free" listings... What do you think would happen if their AdWords spend halved?

*bangs head against wall*

Adam, surely you know how business works? Payment isn't always actual cash changing hands, it isn't even always an official, or even concious, agreement. That doesn't mean there isn't payback happening somewhere.

There's always been a *special relationship* between Amazon and Google and I'll bet my house that all those clicks Google are sending to Amazon with 'no payment' are being mentally credited to a goodwill account somewhere ready for payback time (or mayby they're the payback for a previous favour, who knows?). I' bet the garage (only having one house) that the Expedia deal is along those lines too.

Thats the way the world works and its fair enough, but please don't pretend you believe in altruism because it doesn't exist in normal life and it sure as hell doesn't exist in business. Whether its for hard cash, a warm fuzzy feeling or because Google are flirting with IAC (now there's an interesting idea) there's a group hug of one sort or another going on.

first page or above the fold?

Thanks for pointing that out wibblewobble, as when I do that search I still see 4 aboce the fold, and scrolling down the other 6, all the serps are there.

So, now they clutter the page with more crap, no different than there testing of a different serp halfway down the page I imagine.

If this becoomes the norm, I see it devaluing the top two adwords as people will scroll down to the results if they don't always want news, flights or local, wtf the new york frankfurter co.? Kind of like most have us have adwords blindness, we just gloss past them.

MSN and Yahoo getting into

MSN and Yahoo getting into bed together with the book thing gotta hurt G's pride, so embracing some allies isn't entirely a bad idea.

Links / searches / other crap on top of organic SERPs cost next to nothing for Google and are no doubt immensely valuable for the recipients - they also devalue the market for affiliates which could have an impact on spam attempts, and it's a one up on what MSN and Y! are doing.

Somehow I can't see a company the size and nature of Google negotiating a % of sales, but that doesn't mean it isn't a sweet deal for them.

Just like banner blindness..

I think that as more crap gets stuffed in above the results - the more people don't even see it. Just like 'banner blindness'..... people just don't see them.

So - there are 2 choices for the future:

1. reset your default search preferences to 20 or 50 or 100 - and just scroll on past the crap.

Or 2. change search engines.

Vertical creep

Danny called this one quite a while ago, and had a great session in San Jose on vertical creep into the natural search results. It probably one of the top 3 sessions I've attended (from LOTS of shows). This is only the tip of the iceberg. Methinks the technology has been in place to provide valid vertical results above natural listing for some time...the delay has been in dealing with public response, and making SURE it's relevant.

Danny called this one quite

Danny called this one quite a while ago, and had a great session in San Jose on vertical creep into the natural search results. It probably one of the top 3 sessions I've attended (from LOTS of shows).

Saw that one in SES London in June - very interesting, especially with the Local and Personalised search in the mix. Throw in Clickstream and the SEO model becomes so high end that many SEO companies are already dead without realising it.

What about Yahoo?

Same search.

The machine I'm on now is set at 800x600 and visually the results look startingly like G's -- I see no organic SERPs above the fold. The only thing Y doesn't have is the booking widget (yet).

And you know, except for the logos it would be very hard for a user to know which property he or she is using. Not much design differentiation at all. Y has streamlined its SERPs a bit, G has bulked up its, and they meet exactly in the middle.

no cause for concern

the problem only incentivizes new solutions -- exhibit A, exhibit B,, exhibit C, exhibit D....the larger the problem grows, the larger the incentive to fix it.

Vertical Creep

I agree with stuntdubl and Danny, Vertical Creep was and still is inevitable.

Just like it is inevitable, that as Vertical Creep becomes more pronounced across the major SEs, users will start looking for a alternative Search that has a reduced amount of ads.

One thing just about every user study I have ever seen says; Users don’t like ads. Users want ‘organic’ Results free from advertisements. (every time I use that word 'organic' for the SERP, I think of cow shit - I can't help it.)

Two things made google what it is today -
1. Relevant results, relatively spam free.
2. Very few ads.

As soon as google went public the goal no longer was to provide good clean search results with few ads, the goal was to provide the stock holders (the real owners of the google) with a profit.

BTW - Thanks goog~! I just sold some of my goog stock yesterday and made enough money to buy several new cars or pay off a very large hospital bill...

Was just talking in the

Was just talking in the office about this and showing off the SERP in question, and the boss said a Google employee was on G4 TV not too long ago and was asked about all this stuff creeping into the SERPs - the guy said they plan to let user preferences determine which extra "widgets" you see and which you don't.

>>As soon as google went

>>As soon as google went public the goal no longer was to provide good clean search results with few ads, the goal was to provide the stock holders (the real owners of the google) with a profit.

Amen. It's NBCi all over again.

At some point you run out of room with vertical creep, then the only thing to do for Google is to really start slopping their ads all over our websites with Autolink. You know that is what they are preparing us for - numbing us too.

0o0o0o0

Just returned from my time travels and brought back a few notes with me.

Altavista re-design

Dan England wrote:
In many ways a much more clear and easily understandable architecture
which will probably be more commercially successful from a content and channels POV. However, IMHO, I am very disappointed to see the Search Query input field of my favourite search engine slowly migrating further and further down the page.
[...]
Is this symbolic of the degree of a search engines fall from grace - how far down the page the query input field slips ;-) ?

Spotlighted links from 1999

April 16, 1999
Clutter, clutter, clutter. On the sample screen, the search results are allocated about 1/3 of the pixels - but a user with a small screen would not see any search results above the fold. One wonders how long a search engine that doesn't show search results can survive.

Raging.com is dead

A year ago AltaVista introduced the Raging.com search engine, which was basically AltaVista with another face. AltaVista copied the clean and simple Google design, and tried to appeal to searchers that were sick and tired of ads and portal extras.

In all seriousness, I do understand Google's POV. They want everyone to use the search box for whatever they need: calculator, converions, movies, books, etc. No major clutter of links to different channels like a normal portal would do. Just narrow down the links or output to the topic of what is searched. For now, like some have already stated, the majority of average searches are still clean, but with more services continuing to be integrated, how long till they almost take over the fold for those as well?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.