Fears of search fragmentation in the USA

PPC experts in the US are worried that recent attempts by the search engines to expand their services and the range of displayed results is causing a drop in the effectiveness of Pay Per Click advertising. This is the paid for results that are shown on the right hand side of most search engines’ results and in some cases at the top and bottom in pale coloured boxes. It seems that click through rates (CTR) have been unusually low for the last month.

The theory, and it’s a fairly convincing one, is that the maps, images or videos which are being displayed above the main organic text results take the eye left and down so that viewers hardly notice the PPC results at all.

If this results in advertisers losing faith in PPC then Google in particular may find their revenues dropping. Will this cause them to rethink Universal Search or will they adopt another approach such as redesigning their results pages? For so long their clean interface and layout was part of their attraction but it’s becoming gradually more cluttered.

So far we still haven’t seen much of the Universal style results in the UK – I wonder if this is because we’re lagging the US or if there are second thoughts creeping in?

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