In the world of Google SEO technicians and companies have all been watching the transition occurring on the Google search results pages where organic or “free Google listings” have systematically been reduced in size and prominence over the last several years. Google Adwords or their paid platform ads growing bigger not only in the amount of size they take up on the page, but the number of ads and their placement are pushing down those once dominant top 3 organic rankings.
When we look at what has happened to the Google Map listings (Google Local) which use to be seven listings deep and have now been reduced to 3 and coming soon they will be down to 2 with the addition of a paid advertisement. Google has now reduced the free map listings they used to give small businesses and are pushing them aside so that they can continue to covet and collect more advertising dollars.
I used to tell people that Google wanted to protect the search results pages from big companies who would come in and buy up the entire first page of every search, that’s why they were fair about allowing the small mom and pop to compete with anyone in any heading as long as the followed the Google guidelines. I told folks that Google wanted the results to be a combination of big and small, where you Mr One Truck Repairman could compete with the likes of the Home Advisor and Angie’s List, Home Depot and the other small business repairman across the community, I don’t believe Google wants or cares about that anymore. It’s not something they would ever admit too but the writing appears to be on the wall for those that are paying attention.
Clearly, this is no longer the case as Google is pushing their paid Adwords solutions to all the prime placements on a results page. I can see a day when organic results will be limited to 3 per page and they will be pushed to the very bottom of the page in hard to read 6px comic sans font, with no links identified for clicking and maybe a sign over top of them that reads “click here at your own risk” with a skull and crossbones.
Now I’m certainly overstating things to be dramatic but I’m really writing that because every 3 months or so it seems that Google takes an action that makes my absurd predictions maybe a little more believable. Take a look at the case study the linked article below provides. If you project out over the next 5 years you can see where things are headed and it’s going to end up being a mandated pay to play world.
There will always be organic listings for education, research purposes but the search terms that are valuable to commerce in this country from small businesses to large mega corporations are going to be impacted by this drive for greed. The small businesses will be the big losers when they enter the paid market arena of Adwords because the big companies have the deep pockets to dominate making it impossible to earn an honest return with the high costs associated with bidding with the big boys.
Now it’s our job as SEO/SEM marketing professionals to come up with solutions for our small business customers who need the internet marketing channel to survive and we have many tools at our disposal. A balance of paid and organic results seems to be the forecast for the future. Facebook Ads offer a partial solution along with retargeting and other marketing opportunities that are sure to arise in this fast changing environment.
We are really left with one search engine that is powering this exploding internet age and I think everyone should be a little uncomfortable with the limited options particularly as Google continues on a path to monetize every square inch of their pages. That’s a lot of power in one companies hands, maybe those calling to regulate Google are harbingers of things to come.