Keeping tabs on a site’s Google search rank is a fundamental part of the SEO industry. Jostling for positions on a search engine result page (SERPs) with the usual competitors, whilst simultaneously keeping a close eye on emerging adversaries, is an age old past-time for SEO enthusiasts. But whilst the industry are accustomed to frequently changing algorithms, Google’s latest twist has meant there is a new force of competition to be wary of on the search page – Google themselves.
Not so long ago, should you search for a generic search item such as ‘supermarket’, a stream of search results would appear on your screen – relevant for the whole country. Google however, have slowly been integrating a more localised search results page for similarly common terms, in an attempt to retrieve results MORE relevant for the user. Similar searches for ‘Tesco’ will not only bring up the nearest 113 (slight exaggeration) Tesco stores closest to your I.P address, but a handy Google map listing too.
For more information-based searches, such as a news story, a music group or product, there are now various indents which occupy certain positions on a now more unfamiliar search page. News, video, and picture results are fast establishing themselves as familiar search channels on Google who are incorporating them in an attempt to anticipate the searcher’s needs.
Whilst this makes the user’s search experience easier and more convenient, in SEO terms it perhaps does the exact opposite.
A site which may have been achieving regular top 5 positions on a search page will find their landscape destabilised, as the introduction of the video and product listings will inevitably push the regular list down the page and out of sight. The competition for positions is no longer restricted to one search medium, but anything up to 4 or 5 when you consider the social media ‘live’ listings which are also creeping into SERPs.
It is worth reminding at this point that these changes do, of course, affect everyone and that playing field is restored level in some respects. What it does bring about is the confirmation (as if it was needed) and realisation that search engines are keeping up to speed with the demand for multiple media platforms, with the assumption users don’t just want regular website listings anymore.
It isn’t just the competition which needs monitoring, but the search engine itself! Google will adjust the SERPs to appease users just as they always have, whilst SEOs will continue to adjust their campaigns to the ever-changing landscape; just as they always have!