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.

More: Thoughts on Google Instant's usability, and impact on SEO and paid ...

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Tags: Google, google, instant, search, universal

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Comment by JoeM on September 14, 2010 at 12:12pm
You are correct! The clutter is getting a bit much. It depends on what you are searching though and how popular the keywords are. For example, if you look up "discount shoes" you will see that the first 3 are ads then the next 3 are organic then Google's business search results then you are below the fold.
Comment by Logan on September 14, 2010 at 10:29am
Interesting! It has really changed and you are right. I have noticed more at the top of the page when conducting a search. Just the SE's trying to get more $.

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