Google's Search Results Page is Becoming a Problem - Here's What to Do About It
Google is an immensely successful tech giant for a reason: it provides fantastic, user-friendly services. Google’s search engine is the bedrock of its services and has offered incredibly beneficial results for years. But, as time marches on, is Google’s wonderful search service moving in the wrong direction?
While Google still provides great opportunities for your website, its search results have become cluttered, complex, full of ads and short on organic results.
Examples of Google’s Cluttered Search Results
If you performed a Google search a decade ago, you’d generally receive ten clear, organic, blue-link results with potentially a paid result or two. Here’s a search for “Italian restaurant” from a number of years ago:
Now, check out a search result from today for “bluetooth speaker.”
You can see the top results are Google Shopping ads, followed by text ads. What follows is a variety of sections, including search option bubbles, product reviews, Google’s “People Also Ask” feature, before we are finally given a single traditional organic result.
While all of these sections can be useful, the problem is the clutter and complexity. It can be a visual chore to identify and understand each section, especially since Google is constantly changing and updating these on different search results pages.
Perhaps the biggest issue, however, is how rare it is to even see organic search results any more. Discovering a natural result on Google these days has been compared to a Where's Waldo search.
In short, today’s Google search results are becoming cluttered, complex and lacking solid organic results.
Google Ads Are Taking Up More Space in Search Results
A recent study of 10,000 different Google search results was performed to see how far down the page organic search results landed. In 2013, the average organic link began at 375 pixels down the page. In 2020, it dropped to 616 pixels. Clearly, it’s getting more difficult to discover organic results.
Finding a YouTube video, Google Map result or even a Google Ad in search results can be useful, but Google also owns all these results and benefits when users click them.
This is unfortunate because true, organic Google search results are amazing! We’ve seen these search results bring helpful outcomes to both users and businesses for years. In fact, the best website traffic that spends the most time on a website is almost always from organic search results as they’re a real, natural answer to a query. Google connects the target audience with the organization and both benefit, all because of the purity of this organic link that was simply the best result for the user.
Why is Google Reducing Organic Results in Search?
Google may be reducing the discoverability of organic results in order to increase the number of clicks an ad receives. While Google could argue its improving things, making life better for the user by providing more options. The skeptical digital marketer, however, may argue that burying traditional organic results is good for Google’s bottom line.
You see, the dirty little secret is that Google isn’t particularly interested in sending anyone to your website or any other website. Generally the more time someone spends on Google the better it is for Google. Plus, Google is a business. While it may be passionate about creating good experiences for users, they are also very passionate about increasing their bottom line and pleasing shareholders.
If finding organic results is difficult, the user may be likely to click a search ad and each clicked ad results in a payment to Google. Over 80% of the revenue of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) comes from Google advertising. There’s clearly motivation for Google to channel users toward ads.
To be clear, there’s certainly nothing wrong with Google including ads in its search results. It is a business that needs to turn a profit. Plus, the ads can lead to good results for the user in many cases. The issue is simply the overabundance and prominence of the ads.
How Can Google Improve Its Search Results Page?
Reducing the presence of ads and giving organic results more of the spotlight could greatly improve the current state of the Google search experience - not just for SEO professionals trying to rank their websites at the top, but also for the end user who is looking for a real answer. Doing so may not increase Google’s profits in the short-term, but would ensure a happier, more loyal user base for the long-term.
Perhaps another solution could be a limited ad version of Google search. Many services such as YouTube or HBO Max allow users to pay to limit or turn off ads completely.
How to Help Your Website Gain More Visibility in Google Search
A solid, ongoing search engine optimization strategy is the best way to fight for prominence in Google search results. More specifically, here are five areas you can focus on to help your website be more visible on Google:
1. Focus on Ranking Within Google’s Featured Snippets
Google’s answer boxes can be a wonderful way to gain visibility and authority with your audience. Plus, they are nearly always above the fold and placed above Google’s ads. Knowing how to rank for featured snippets can certainly take effort, but it’s well worth it. The best way to do so involves adding a clear question, a concise answer and schema code to your website.
2. Get Placement in Google’s “People Also Ask” Section
Google has been emphasizing its “People Also Ask,” FAQ feature heavily in search results lately. If you can provide a solid answer to a question on your website, you may be able to gain placement, which is a great way to get more eyes on your brand. Following the general principles listed in the link above can help you accomplish this.
3. Optimize Your YouTube Videos
Google loves to feature YouTube videos in search results, so having great video content can be a very effective SEO tactic. Actions like optimizing your video titles, adding well-written, lengthy descriptions, having attractive video thumbnail images and adding timestamps to your videos can help your video get more visibility in Google.
4. Optimize Your Website’s Images
Having quality images can be a useful way to appear in not just Google’s image search, but traditional results as well. To do so, ensure each image is original, has a reasonable file size (under 100 kb is a best practice) and has a descriptive image alt tag which ideally includes a natural keyword or two. You should be able to edit each image’s alt tag through your website’s content management system.
5. Place Google Ads in Search Results
While we do see best results from organic results, a Google Ads campaign can be effective if you need to make an impact now. Many business owners question why it’s worth it to pay for Google Ads, and our experts agree it’s a good way to boost your overall search presence. If you have the budget, ads can get you to the top of search results quickly.
Get Expert Help With SEO and Google Ads
Are you getting frustrated with Google search and ads? If you’re looking to gain solid traffic to your website by boosting SEO or placing Google Ads, our team can offer guidance. Reach out to Blue Compass and let us know how we can help.