As you know, I’m a Google-girl. I love the relevancy of the results and the tools for advanced searching. But sometimes I get a little annoyed at what I see happening with the “above the fold” results.
The other day, while doing Internet Research for a client, I noticed that on my (fairly large) monitor, there was barely an inch of space that represented the Organic search results “above the fold.”
In order to see other organic results, I had to scroll down. Quite obviously, the ads get most screen real estate, at an estimated cost per click of over $4.00, you can understand why ($$) Google would want to show as many ads as possible. The yellow section on the screen is part of the Google Medical results. These used to show up in the right-hand sidebar, taking the space of some of the ads, but now, as you can see, they are showing up in prime “screen real estate” and pushing the organic/natural search results off the top of the page altogether. And it’s not just medical… these sorts of Google-Consolidated results are showing up for all kinds of searches now, and beginning to dominate the organic search results.
This bothers me. I love being able to get relevant information, but I would prefer to see it in it’s natural state…. from the site that’s actually publishing the information instead of consolidated into a Google-dominated screen.
What are your thoughts?
Google has always claimed that advertising on AdWords will NOT impact the natural search results of a website.
However, sometimes I get suspicious….
Like when I see a client of mine, who has been in business since 2003 being beaten out in the organic rankings by a newbie (business started October 2012) and that newbie is an AdWords advertiser.
Here are some of the stats I look at when doing competitive website analysis:
- Age of Site
- Number of Pages Indexed
- Number of incoming links (backlinks) reported – take this stat with a large grain of salt… it’s usually very under-reported.
- Social signals (Twitter mentions, FB likes, Google +1)
So, I did a little research using the SEOQuake Chrome Extension:
- Age, May 2004
- Pages Indexed: 29
- Backlinks: 4
- Social: Tw, 2; FB, NA, +1, 23 (note: FB stats do not appear to be correct, I know ASU has lots of likes)
- Age, May 2013
- Pages Indexed: 5
- Backlinks: NA
- Social: Tw, 10; FB, NA, +1, 0
At first glance, based on these stats there is no way that farmboy should be outranking AllSmokedUp. But wait! Although farmboy’s business was started in October 2012, the website has a start date of May 2013. That’s only 2 months ago. It looks like they may be experiencing what I have seen frequently with Google results… a brief “moment in the sun” of great rankings within about 2-3 months of a new site starting up. I believe it’s part of Google’s algorithm that “rewards” recency and “newness” for a brief period before the site sinks back into the abyss for 6-8 months and then levels out to its “proper” position in the natural search results.
Well, it looks like we’re in a “wait and see” period. I’m going to watch these results and see if my theory holds… that this is the “moment in the sun” for that new site and there isn’t a conspiracy to boost the natural search results of sites that advertise on Google AdWords.
Score one for the FTC! A recent article on Digital Trends summarizes the “rap on the knuckles” being given by the FTC to the search engine companies because they’ve veered away from the 2002 guidelines that state that Ads must be “clearly distinguished” from the natural search results.
I have fussed about this before as I have watched the top ad banner background on Google search results continue to fade…
The top 3 results in this screenshot are Google Ads, as well as the whole right sidebar. It used to be that the ads on top had a much more distinctive yellow (or sometimes blue) background. It’s now a very pale peach color that I sometimes I have to look very closely at to determine where the natural search results begin.
According to a survey done by the FTC, I’m not the only one having trouble see where the ads end and the natural search results begin…
“A recent online survey by a search strategies company found that nearly half of searchers did not recognize top ads as distinct from natural search results and said the background shading used to distinguish the ads was white,” the FTC said in the letter.
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/web/ftc-tells-search-engines-to-improve-ad-labeling-practices/#ixzz2XQDMLhBX
Google is not the only search engine who received notification from the FTC. There were 7 general search engines and 17 specialty search engines that received notification to improve their ad labeling practices.
What do you think?