Home Forums Tech talk Google Page Layout Changes – BIG Implications!

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  • #970741
    marketingweb
    Member
    • Total posts: 625

    Hi All,

    I’m not sure how many of you have noticed, but in the last week Google has implemented a number of changes to how it lays out it’s pages. Primarily these relate to changes to where the map for local results is shown, but I also believe there is more to it than that, with implications for everyone who relies on the big G for search traffic.

    Overall it seems that Google is now working to getting more paid results “above the fold” (in the top section without scrolling down), and far less standard organic results there. This basically makes getting to #1 in Google even more valuable than before, but also potentially reduces the value of being ranked in positions 2-10, and especially positions 4-10.

    Without wanting to look like I wear a tin foil hat, I think it’s something that every web marketer needs to be aware and wary of – it’s that big a change.

    I’ve written quite a long blog post on the topic for those interested: Google Places Changes – How SEO Just Got Harder

    Would love to get the thoughts of others on this topic – are the implications as far reaching as I suggest, or am I getting all worked up over nothing?

    Matt

    #1045868
    bridiej
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,097

    Yes, I had noticed!!!

    The problem is with so many people aiming at the number one spots, and most of them with an enormous budget, I’m not sure how people like me can compete against them in terms of Google rankings.

    And without another viable option (i.e. a business directory that EVERYBODY utilises) I’m not sure what the answer is….

    Some of just don’t have $$$s to throw at SEO especially when the goalposts keep changing.

    Hmmm…

    #1045869
    JohnSheppard
    Member
    • Total posts: 940

    My understanding of the world is that markets get saturated, and then the hoards move to other markets and saturate that one instead, then something else comes along and the cycle continues over again in a slightly different, yet same way.

    You say adwords is saturated and the price can’t go up much more to make it not cost effective. What makes you think SEO is any different? How could it not be? When anything is not cost effective people stop doing it, it is inevitable that any form of marketing arrives at a point where only those who are better than their competitors are make money.

    As for the implications, I see two;
    a) Maybe I’ll finally try bing lol…I can’t stand mismatched scrolling stuff, it hurts my eyes, they’re not sure what to focus on.
    b) Nobody will care, they’ll just keep trying :)

    #1045870
    Aidan
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,125

    Great article Matt!

    I’ve been accused of all sorts of things (including being in the tin foil hat brigade) when I’ve commented in the past that SEO is not a guarantee nor is it free and everlasting.

    If I were Google I’d be charging to be ANYWHERE on the 1st page!

    Honestly if anybody here had ownership of Google would they really just give all that traffic away when there are advertisers large and small willing to pay for it?

    Assuming you can control the paid results so they were all quality results likely to satisfy the person searching for widgets or whatever then why would you not charge for ALL those front page spots?

    Where’s my hat…

    #1045871
    marketingweb
    Member
    • Total posts: 625
    JohnSheppard, post: 55982 wrote:
    You say adwords is saturated and the price can’t go up much more to make it not cost effective. What makes you think SEO is any different? How could it not be? When anything is not cost effective people stop doing it, it is inevitable that any form of marketing arrives at a point where only those who are better than their competitors are make money.

    I agree John that in some cases the amount of cost and effort required for SEO is not worth it – but in many cases still it’s VERY cost effective.

    Rather than presuming it’s all too much effort now, I think the current changes reflect the fact that for many people the exact opposite was true, and SEO work was a far more viable option. If it becomes far more cost effective to do organic SEO work rather than Adwords for some, Google has then decided to do something to make SEO harder and thus Adwords more attractive presumably.

    The way I see the SEO landscape up to now, there are some keywords that have been so saturated and difficult it could be argued it’s barely worth it. On the other hand, there have been many many keywords where it’s almost stupidly easy to rank organically, yet people are still paying per click at high prices to be there. Why, I don’t know – maybe it’s the instant gratification thing, maybe it’s a distrust of the SEO process, maybe it’s the fact it’s “guaranteed”, maybe it’s just ignorance.

    Will this charge now, it’s hard to say. We have to wait and see. I still think there is massive value at being first in the organic results, it’s lower down on page one that will become less desireable. Will people start using Bing more? Perhaps. Will optimisation of Local Search results become a bigger piece of the SEO pie – probably. It will be interesting to find out!

    Matt

    #1045872
    melbstrip
    Member
    • Total posts: 114
    bridiej, post: 55969 wrote:
    Yes, I had noticed!!!

    The problem is with so many people aiming at the number one spots, and most of them with an enormous budget, I’m not sure how people like me can compete against them in terms of Google rankings.

    And without another viable option (i.e. a business directory that EVERYBODY utilises) I’m not sure what the answer is….

    Some of just don’t have $$$s to throw at SEO especially when the goalposts keep changing.

    Hmmm…

    You hit the mark here Bridie. I’m feeling your pain.

    #1045873
    websitedesigner
    Member
    • Total posts: 917

    This came out today, it’s a pretty comprehensive review of the changes. I don’t know how these guys produce so much content, it’s amazing I can’t keep up. http://www.smartcompany.com.au/internet/20101116-how-to-stay-ahead-in-google-s-brave-new-seo-world.html

    #1045874
    websitedesigner
    Member
    • Total posts: 917

    Just on this topic it’s pretty damn frustrating, it wasn’t long ago Google removed the search by .com.au as well and put it over on the left. Back then we were coming up 4th for the term ‘website design’ and we got loads of traffic. We are still technically coming up 4th in Pages from Australia but with all of the recent changes above our listing there are 3 sponsored links up the top, the 3 natural listings before us, the map over on the right, 7 places listings and because this takes up so much vertical space all of the adwords ads are now above our listing which is another 8 listings then Wikipedia (because I didn’t click pages from Australia). So basically I have the 4th highest ranking website in the country but there are 22 listings before ours! Not expecting much traffic anymore. Basically we need to be in the top 3 or throw stupid amounts of money at adwords and hoik up our prices to compensate.

    #1045875
    marketingweb
    Member
    • Total posts: 625
    websitedesigner, post: 56041 wrote:
    This came out today, it’s a pretty comprehensive review of the changes. I don’t know how these guys produce so much content, it’s amazing I can’t keep up. http://www.smartcompany.com.au/internet/20101116-how-to-stay-ahead-in-google-s-brave-new-seo-world.html

    Thanks for the link – it was a good read with another point of view – although sounds like those who wrote that article trying to put a more positive spin on it than I did!

    A couple little factual things in it I would dispute though. For example, saying that Google Instant only affects SEM not SEO (ie Adwords strategies not organic strategies) is crazy to me – if more people are clicking specific phrases, you need to notice this whether you are paying for listing or trying to improve it organically. The other thing they mention is the Google Instant Preview affecting click through rates for Adwords – in all my testing I’ve only noticed this feature for organic listings, and NOT showing up next to Adwords listings – but who knows where it will go now.

    Re your other comment about position 4 = position 22, you are spot on. Once upon a time position 4 = position 7 (behind 3x adwords), now it’s nowhere. Scary stuff – to me it means if you get to the top you will do even better, if you are “almost” there but not quite – more Adwords spend!

    Matt

    #1045876
    bridiej
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,097
    websitedesigner, post: 56043 wrote:
    Just on this topic it’s pretty damn frustrating, it wasn’t long ago Google removed the search by .com.au as well and put it over on the left. Back then we were coming up 4th for the term ‘website design’ and we got loads of traffic. We are still technically coming up 4th in Pages from Australia but with all of the recent changes above our listing there are 3 sponsored links up the top, the 3 natural listings before us, the map over on the right, 7 places listings and because this takes up so much vertical space all of the adwords ads are now above our listing which is another 8 listings then Wikipedia (because I didn’t click pages from Australia). So basically I have the 4th highest ranking website in the country but there are 22 listings before ours! Not expecting much traffic anymore. Basically we need to be in the top 3 or throw stupid amounts of money at adwords and hoik up our prices to compensate.

    It’s mad. Yes, I understand Google is a business and basically wants people to use Adwords BUT all they’re doing is making it an unfair playing field where the people with unlimited budgets will benefit and the smaller players will have no chance.

    Plus, if everyone starts using Adwords surely the CPC price will keep going up and up and up?

    #1045877
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591
    websitedesigner, post: 56043 wrote:
    So basically I have the 4th highest ranking website in the country but there are 22 listings before ours! Not expecting much traffic anymore. Basically we need to be in the top 3 or throw stupid amounts of money at adwords and hoik up our prices to compensate.

    It’s fairly clear which path Google is heading for, and that is more paying advertisers on the homepage. This will drive the price of sponsored listings even further which will make it out of reach for many small businesses and the like in the near future. It’s happening right now!!!

    Let’s not forget the topic of paid listings, just because you have a big budget for top spots in Adwords doesn’t necessarily mean you are being offered the most relevant or appropriate choice when searching online. Hypocritical? Maybe…

    Eventually what I can see occurring is that you will never be able to rank in the top three positions organically. Obviously this is in Google’s favor to accumulate more revenue. Good luck to all the SEO consultants trying to rank their customers in the top three positions.

    I wonder if they will ever increase the top sponsored positions to “Five”. Interesting thought!!!

    #1045878
    marketingweb
    Member
    • Total posts: 625
    bridiej, post: 56046 wrote:
    It’s mad. Yes, I understand Google is a business and basically wants people to use Adwords BUT all they’re doing is making it an unfair playing field where the people with unlimited budgets will benefit and the smaller players will have no chance.

    Plus, if everyone starts using Adwords surely the CPC price will keep going up and up and up?

    Interesting thoughts Bridie!

    Internet search has always been loved by smaller businesses, as the Internet has been seen to “level the playing field” to some extent, where every business could have a go.

    We of course don’t complain that it’s not fair that TV advertisements are so expensive, or advertisements in glossy magazines – but then maybe one of the reasons people love the web so much is that as well as being interactive it was originally not all about money. This has changed in many areas, and looks like search is the final frontier!

    Matt

    #1045879
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642

    Hi Matt,
    Glad you brought one of Google’s many 2010 changes into view here.

    There has not been another year in Google’s existence where it has introduced so many changes of major marketing significance.

    My guess is that it is Google’s mobile phone position (Android) that is driving this. Immediately on top of “Places” we have Google’s “Hotpot” which is a form of overlay on Places.

    “Google Unveils Hotpot, a Recommendation Engine for Places”
    http://mashable.com/2010/11/16/google-hotpot/

    This does not mean they have a success on ther hands. There are many more failed Google experiments than successes.

    The impact for us in the industry is not new, it just means we are having to run faster.

    I can quote you examples of specialist SEO companies who are charging $2,000 to set up Google Places for companies. (I’ll do it for a fraction of that.)

    The truth is that NO SEO consultant has had the time to really assess what promotes one company’s Places page to the top of a competitive “Places” list. (E.g. Try “restaurant Sydney” and there are 46,000 pages fighting over the 7 places that are listed.)

    Of course it is very much a two-edged sword.

    Check out these top “restaurant Sydney” Place page reviews and you may never want to go to any of them again.

    This is all very different to the traditional discussion of SEO and I may chose to revert to calling myself an Inernet Marketer instead of an SEO Consultant. No big deal, I’ve been around on the web a hell of a lot longer than the term SEO.

    It is all part of the ongoing challenge and change on the Internet. It is also part of the reason why DIY SEO achieves limited results.

    Regs,

    JohnW

    #1045880
    bigdipper
    Member
    • Total posts: 46

    The problems with a lot of this SEO is that you can spend lots of money (or maybe little money but lots of time) getting to number one or on the first page.

    Google then change something and screw you up!

    #1045881
    marketingweb
    Member
    • Total posts: 625
    bigdipper, post: 56231 wrote:
    The problems with a lot of this SEO is that you can spend lots of money (or maybe little money but lots of time) getting to number one or on the first page.

    Google then change something and screw you up!

    True, but you can also do the same thing on most marketing – eg putting an advertisement in a newspaper isn’t a guarantee of results.

    And besides, it’s generally those employing “tricks” that are here one day and gone the next. Those working solidly on the basics tend to stick around better and more just fluctuate a bit rather than being like a shooting star.

    Matt

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