Thoughts on SEO, Rank Creep, Google Instant, and Universal Search
Google and Bing have been changing their algorithms and user interfaces at a furious pace over the past 12 months.
Once dominated by plain ole web pages, "universal search" results now pepper the SERPs with images, videos, stock quotes, weather, music, news, shopping results, social media posts, you name it.
You still see ten web pages (by default), but they're increasingly buried amid links for other content. Search for "Lady Gaga" and there are about forty potential links to click, including videos and music tracks, concert dates, images, related searches, and a constant stream of Twitter posts.
Google Instant just adds to the noise, because even though you're suddenly seeing lots more impressions, there's now a drop-down box of five suggested searches, pushing results farther down the page.
The August 23 issue of DMNews brought together an interesting roundtable of ecommerce marketers and vendors to discuss how to "Sharpen Your Ecommerce Strategy."
As far as search goes, the money quote comes from Will Devlin, web marketing manager at Gander Mountain:
"If you look at the search results page now, it's so cluttered, at least on Google, which everyone optimizes for first. It used to be you would have your sponsored listings and the natural listings and you'd be done."
"Now, you've got shopping things thrown in there, you've got image results, you've got Twitter, you've got affiliate networks putting stuff on the side. We were looking at it last week and we are No. 3 for a specific high volume keyword; we were below the fold at No. 3. It's so frustrating. Just two years ago, maybe one year ago, No. 3 sounded great, but not today. It forces us to go back to paid listings."
In other words (and you heard it here first, folks!), when it comes to SEO, three is the new six.