Here’s a fascinating piece of research for those interested in Google results (and who isn’t?). How Low Can #1 Go? (A Ranking Study) on SEOmoz looks at how low on the page the number one “natural” search result appears. As we all know, the days of Google presenting ten plain results are long gone. Now, for many generic product type searches, you’re likely to be presented with a single lonely result on the first screen, and even that is a Wikipedia entry:
That’s three ads, a bunch of “shopping ads”, a video and some images, in addition to our single lonely conventional result. For companies competing to “get to number one on Google”, the slow change to results like this has caused some resentment. But I’d suggest that two of the three parties involved in the search process win from this: Google (by getting more ads in), and the searchers, who are more likely to find a good, active supplier amongst adverts than they are from the random selection Google used to show for nothing. Only the supplier, whose free entry has been relegated to obscurity, loses out. But it’s been a free ride which was never going to last. Now, not only is trying to “get to number one” for a generic product search harder than ever, it’s becoming increasingly pointless anyway. “Getting to number one” now means buying the top advert space on the page (which of course is where we come in).
The SEOmoz article finds some remarkable Google results pages. It’s well worth a read if you want to see some examples of the future.