Google is transforming the way its search results look, and we’ve just seen the second of at least three changes this year. Already the ads on the right-hand side have been retired, and more ads have been included at the top of the page. Later in the year, the ads are going to get nearly as much text as the ‘natural’ search results. In comparison, this change is a minor one …at first glance.
Here’s what an advert looked like last week:
…and here’s what it looks like today:
Now, if you’re thinking: “Come off it Chris, all that’s happened is a small icon’s changed colour – that’s not worth writing a whole article about”, then take a look at the impact on the page overall:
Click to see it full size, or just make a Google search yourself. See what’s happened? Yet another blurring of the distinction between adverts and ‘natural’ search results. Sure, the “Ad” icon is still there, but quite frankly, it might as well not be. Google would argue that most people typing in generic searches like this one are looking to buy a product, and for anyone wanting to buy a product, the companies bothering to advertise are probably the results which people want anyway.
I’m not going to knock ‘SEO’, because if done properly, it’s still worth the effort. But the best you can achieve with SEO for generic searches is getting less every day.