Google changes search results but is it for the better?

Yesterday word started filtering through from America of some fairly fundamental changes in the way Google display search results. This morning it hit the UK datacentres and we’re getting our first proper look at them. They look like being a massive change!

Google intend mixing into the main body of the search results the kind of results we’ve occasionally seen for local search in separate additional boxes at the top of pages. However these aren’t additional any more but form part of the normal 10 results (for anyone using the default setup). That’s not all, it wont just be local search; there may be book search, image search, video search, and others. Essentially Google has decide to include all the additional search features that have been sitting mostly unused on the menu bar above the search box into the main search results.

This change could have a profound impact on the usefulness of results, and depending on what you’re looking for it could be either much better or much worse. So far there is no sign of a way to avoid these changes in your preferences. Nor is there any indication of how often such results will appear.

For many companies who depend on first page/top ten results for traffic it could be a disaster if these new results push them off that vital first page. One example I’ve seen shows a search with local results where the three locals take up three places out of the ten. If you were in positions 8-10 the chances are you’ve been pushed down to the second page.

Only time will tell if this proves popular with users or not and what the ramifications will be for the SEO industry.
If users like it then it will cement Google’s position as the pre-eminent search engine and may consign the struggling MSN/Live Search to oblivion. However if users find their searches producing poor or irrelevant results then we might see a swing back towards anyone who can provide a good alternative. In the meantime I expect to see the conspiracy theorists out in force saying that it’s all a scheme to increase Adwords spending by the folk whose ranking get pushed down.

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